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The Blazing Star State Trail is located in Albert Lea, near Minnesota’s southern border. The town is known as “The Land Between the Lakes,” and the trail begins on the northern shore of one of the state’s larger bodies of water, Albert Lea Lake.
You can begin your journey in Frank Hall Park, which offers restrooms, picnic areas, and water. At Garfield Avenue/-East Front Street, there is a parking lot where the trail also becomes the northern segment of a 0.75-mile double loop; this loop gives users an option to circle around a marshy area on the north shore of the lake before continuing on toward Myre–Big Island State Park.
The trail continues through the east side of the city before entering the rural landscapes to the state park, a scenic natural gem of wetlands, oak savanna, Big Woods, and prairie. Spring and fall bird migrations make this one of Minnesota’s premier bird-watching parks.
The current pathway is nearly 6 miles long and paved for all but a 0.5-mile section in the park, just before the bridge at the eastern trailhead. Future plans call for extending it about 14 miles east to Austin’s trail network and the Shooting Star State Trail. The initial extension, currently under construction, will take the trail from the eastern trailhead in the park, over an inactive Canadian Pacific Railroad bridge across Albert Lea Lake, and to the small town of Hayward, which is 1.5 miles to the east. A long-term goal is to extend the trail from Albert Lea all the way east to the Mississippi River.
Two parking areas are available at the west end of the trail. The first is adjacent to Frank Hall Park at the intersection of Frank Ave. and James Ave. From the I-90/I-35 interchange in Albert Lea, head south on I-95, and take Exit 12. Continue on US 65 S. 1.8 miles. Turn left onto Garfield Ave., which becomes E. Front St. One lot will be on your left in 0.2 mile. To reach the other lot, go 0.8 mile on Garfield Ave./E. Front St., and turn left onto Frank Ave. Turn left onto James Ave., and parking will be on your left.
Parking can also be found in Myre–Big Island State Park. From I-35, take Exit 11. Head east on County Road 46/E. Main St., and go 0.6 mile. Turn right onto CR 38/780th Ave., and travel south 1.5 miles to the main entrance of the park and a parking lot near the trail.
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