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The 22-mile original section of the paved Glacial Lakes State Trail follows the former right-of-way of the Burlington Northern Railroad between Willmar and about 1 mile west of Paynesville at Roseville Road Northeast, at the Kandiyohi–Stearns county line. The trail passes through the towns of Spicer, New London, and Hawick and past Green Lake. The segment between Willmar and Spicer includes a 10-mile parallel grass track for equestrians, and the rest of the trail includes a grassy shoulder for equestrians.
The trail traverses the gently rolling prairies of central Minnesota and travels between a landscape of tallgrass prairie and deciduous forest. Among the farmlands, you can catch glimpses of the original prairie and wetlands, which make ideal habitat for white-tailed deer, small mammals, birds, reptiles, and butterflies.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently installed a bike repair station unit at the Civic Center trailhead in Willmar. The City of Willmar has also developed this area to include an information kiosk and a rack with bikes for free use throughout the city.
In New London, you can take a side trip to Sibley State Park (about 3 miles away); follow MN 9 to County Road 148. Note: If you go by bike, you will have to ride in a bike lane on the shoulder of CR 148. In Paynesville you can connect to city trails that circle Lake Koronis. Services are available in the towns along the route, including rest areas and restrooms. The trail is groomed for snowmobiles during winter in Kandiyohi County.
Beyond the county line near Paynesville, the trail is undeveloped to Roscoe; railroad ballast still covers the surface, and some bridges are out. From Roscoe, a newer 5-mile paved segment takes trail users to Richmond, where water and restrooms are available at the new Glacial Lakes Pavilion.
Just east of Richmond, the Glacial Lakes State Trail continues to 178th Avenue, where it seamlessly connects to the Rocori Trail. The Rocori Trail will eventually continue to Rockville, and long-term planning extends the trail all the way into St. Cloud. Note that snowmobiling is prohibited on the Stearns County section of the Glacial Lakes State Trail.
You can access Glacial Lakes State Trail in many places along its route.
In Willmar, take I-94 to Exit 127. Head south on MN 28 W./US 71 S./Main St. S., and go 20.3 miles. Turn left onto US 71, and go 20.6 miles. Turn left onto 37th Ave. N.E./County Road 90, and in 0.7 mile turn right onto 30th St. N.E./CR 9 N.E. Turn right onto Civic Center Drive; parking will be on your right.
For the parking in Spicer, take I-94 to Exit 127. Head south on MN 28 W./US 71 S./Main St. S., and go 20.3 miles. Turn left onto US 71, and go 15.3 miles. Turn left onto CR 10/113th Ave. N.E., and go 2.7 miles. Turn left onto Agnes St., and in 0.1 mile see the parking lot across Second Ave.
Another parking area in Spicer is located on the south side of the bridge over the channel between Nest and Green Lakes. Take I-94 to Exit 127. Head south on MN 28 W./US 71 S./Main St. S., and go 20.3 miles. Turn left onto US 71, and go 10.8 miles. Turn left onto CR 40/180th Ave. N.W., and go 3.1 miles. Turn right onto MN 9/Main St. In 0.4 mile turn right onto MN 23, and go 2 miles. Turn right onto CR 30, and take the first right to reach the parking lot.
Construction scheduled in the near future on MN 23 includes relocating the trail parking lot in Hawick to the south side of the highway. To reach it, take I-94 to Exit 147. Head south on Eighth St. S., and in 0.2 mile turn right onto CR 10. In 0.3 mile turn left to stay on CR 10, and go 14.9 miles. Merge onto MN 23, and in 12.4 miles, if construction has been completed, turn left onto 160th St. N.E. to reach the parking lot. If construction is not complete, turn right onto 160th Ave. N.E., and parking will be on the left.
No good parking is available from Roscoe to Richmond.
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