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Shooting Star State Trail, currently 19 miles long, is an 8-foot-wide asphalt path from LeRoy (east) to Rose Creek (west). It follows an unused railroad bed on Milwaukee Road, which once stretched from the Midwest through the Rocky Mountains.
The eastern end of the trail begins in LeRoy, just 0.25 mile beyond Lake Louise State Park. The trail winds through open meadows and hardwood groves before emerging onto the agricultural fields to the west. The trail then skirts both the Mower County Natural and Scenic Area and the Shooting Star Prairie Scientific and Natural Area as it heads west through the communities of Taopi and Adams and, finally, to the western trailhead at Rose Creek.
Midway between Adams and Rose Creek, a memorial in the form of a Norwegian church has been erected as a rest stop in honor of Margie Meier, a staunch supporter of the trail. The scenic trail includes bike racks and rest benches in key places along the route.
Construction has begun on an 8-mile western extension of the trail from Rose Creek to Austin and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016.
Restrooms and picnic areas are available in LeRoy, Lake Louise State Park, Taopi, and the Adam City Park and Campground on the west side of town.
To reach the LeRoy trailhead, from I-90, take Exit 209A. Turn left onto MN 30/US 63, and go 12.3 miles south. Turn right onto MN 16, and go 1.5 miles. Turn left onto 770th Ave., and go 13.6 miles. Turn left onto W. Lowell St. Ample parking is available at the trailhead between 770th Ave. and N. Mather St.
Parking is also available in Adams north of Main St. in Adams City Park. Take I-90 to Exit 193. Head east on MN 16, and in 0.3 mile turn right onto County Road 7/670th Ave. In 9.3 miles veer left onto 665th Ave., and go 1.5 miles. Turn right onto W. Main St., and in 0.3 mile turn left onto Adams Park Road.
Ample parking is also available at the Rose Creek trailhead. Take I-90 to Exit 187. Head north on MN 20, and immediately turn left onto 220th St. In 1.8 miles turn left onto 610th Ave. In 5.5 miles turn left onto 170th St./Maple St. S.E. Parking will be on the right.
This is a pleasant enough trail. Most of it runs along beside a highway, but in many places there are trees and bushes shielding you from the road. The trail is asphalt, but there are several places where there are big bumps, as if the asphalt was put down in sections, with small breaks between each section. Many of the bumps have been marked with red paint, but the paint has faded and the bumps are still difficult to steer around.
The eastern end, approaching Le Roy, moves away from the highway and winds around a state park. It's quite pretty and very secluded and shady.
But don't let that stop you from exploring this beautiful trail. We started our trip in Rose Creek and thankfully, the wind was against us on the first half of the trip; but that's okay because we had the energy! We lost 30-minutes on the return trip and it was mostly downhill. Being a railroad trail, there's no real "hills" and it is a well-maintained trail, particularly from Adams to Rose Creek. East of Adams, there's cracks and potholes, but they are well-marked. The section through Lake Louse State Park has a lot of tree coverage, and a swimming beach.
We parked in Rose Creek at City Hall (there's no real trailhead parking lot) and the bathrooms in Adams, Taopi and Lake Louise are nice and clean. We ended up eating at Sweet's Hotel in LeRoy - great food and a lovely place to visit. We couldn't find any place to eat in Taopi, so bring water/snacks if you think you'll need them by then. Adams has a nice park along the trail, with playgrounds for the kids.
We only saw about 8 other riders the entire day, maybe because it was a Saturday and folks were avoiding the wind (a storm arrived later in the evening) but it was a great trip!
I rode this trail from west to east with a car shuttle. The western trailhead in Rose Creek has no official parking lot, but it is across the street from the town hall, and there was a porta-potty at the end of the trail.
The trail is dead flat and mostly open except at the far east end in LeRoy. In fact Taopi bills itself "the heart of the prairie." The trail surface is very smooth, with only a few minor cracks and dips. A strong west wind made it a very fast one-way trip for me, but a little slower for my wife who rode back from LeRoy to meet me. I have encountered a strong west wind every time I'm in this part of the state, so be prepared.
The western half of the trail parallels Highway 56 but it was mostly quiet and didn't detract from the scenery. The eastern half, after passing through a tunnel under the highway, is more often away from the road and meanders through the prairie. There are trailheads with parking and facilities in Adams and at the midpoint in Taopi, but nothing else directly on the trail until LeRoy. Just west of LeRoy you pass through Lake Louise state park, including a short on-road section across a bridge. The trail restarts to the west of the bridge without any signage.
The LeRoy trailhead is hard to spot; the trail begins on the north side of Lowell St directly across from a parking lot for the high school baseball diamond. There are restrooms in the building next to the parking lot.
The state map doesn't include a mileage chart and I only saw mile markers near the east end. My mileage (west to east):
0.0 Rose Creek
5.7 Adams City Park
10.1 Taopi trailhead
11.2 Tunnel beneath Highway 56
13.0 Enter the prairie (trail jogs a few yards north)
19.6 LeRoy trailhead
My wife and I rode this trail Sept.24, from Adams to LeRoy and back. The trail starts as a rail-trail but after Taopi, becomes a meandering curving path, with squarer corners than a rail trail. Trail maintenance is very good. It was a wonderful ride through farm fields, grass meadows and woodlands. A stiff west wind sort of spoiled our fun, but it did decrease as the afternoon became evening. (Hint: There's a reason all those wind generators are located around here!!) Really enjoyed our time,in spite of the windy conditions.
I rode this trail with my wife and 4 kids- oldest being 11. We started in Adams, which was good because the trail goes very slightly uphill all the way to LeRoy. There was a little rest stop in Taopi, and of course in LeRoy. The trail was not very shady at all- but where there was shade it was really nice.
Nice trail- we will definitely do it again!
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