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The Goodhue Pioneer State Trail is a work in progress as part of a planned 47-mile trail linking the cities of Red Wing, Goodhue, Zumbrota, Mazeppa, Bellechester, and Pine Island along an inactive railroad corridor. The Duluth, Red Wing & Southern Railroad constructed the line in the late 1880s. However, a derailment in 1964 caused the line to be embargoed by the Chicago Great Western Railroad.
Currently, two sections of trail, separated by a 12-mile gap, are open for recreational use. The 4.2-mile northern segment begins at Pioneer Road on the southern edge of Red Wing. The trail follows Hay Creek as it winds through the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest. Rugged hills blanketed in hardwood forests of oak, elm, birch, black cherry, and basswood dominate the landscape. An adjacent unpaved trail allows for equestrian use. This portion of the trail currently ends at the private Hay Creek Valley Campground in Hay Creek Township.
The 5.5-mile southern half begins at Covered Bridge Park in Zumbrota, home to Minnesota’s last remaining covered bridge. Less than 2 miles from the southern trailhead, there is another covered bridge over a shallow ravine. This section of trail passes through farmland and prairies before ending north of 410th Street in rural Minneola Township. The trail is popular with snowmobilers in the winter.
In Red Wing, trail users can take a city trail about 2 miles north and several blocks west to reach the eastern trailhead of the popular Cannon Valley Trail.
Future plans connect the trail with the cities of Red Wing, Goodhue, Zumbrota, Mazeppa, Bellechester, and Pine Island (intersecting with the Douglas State Trail) for a distance of 47 miles.
To reach a small turnoff parking area in Red Wing, from Saint Paul take US 10/US 61 19.8 miles south. Turn left onto Red Wing Blvd./MN 316. In 9.8 miles turn right onto US 61, and in 11.5 miles turn right onto Bench St. In 1.5 miles turn left onto County Road 66/Pioneer Road, and go 1.4 miles. Turn right onto Hay Creek Trail, and in 1.5 miles reach the small pulloff.
Additional parking is available just inside the entrance to the Hay Creek Unit recreation area of the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest. Follow the directions above, but go 3.4 miles on Hay Creek Trail. Turn left into the day-use area to reach the parking lot.
In Zumbrota, park in Covered Bridge Park or at the library. From Saint Paul, take US 52 S., and drive 52 miles south. Turn left onto 445th St., and in 0.2 mile turn right onto Jefferson Ave. In 0.8 mile turn left onto W. Second St. In 0.4 mile turn left onto West Ave. for the library parking. Or go 0.5 mile on W. Second St., and turn left onto Main St. The Covered Bridge Park entrance will be on your left in 0.2 mile.
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