Riding with Paul Bunyan

This past weekend, I decided I wanted to get outdoors or go for a bike ride or something.  I wanted to get out of the Grand Forks area, but I also didn’t want to drive 6 hours.  I wanted a day trip.  So after looking at some brochures that I got when I first moved to Grand Forks, I found just what I was looking for, the Paul Bunyan State Trail!

The trail itself is a classic Rails-to-Trails Conservancy project, where old railroad beds are converted into biking and walking trails that can span for miles and miles.  The Paul Bunyan Trail’s first segment opened back in 1988 starting in Brainerd, MN, but recently in 2011 a segment was completed to connect Bemidji State Park to the trail.  That is a total of 112 miles of trails and once completed it should be 120 miles AND connect to the Blue Ox Trail (of course Paul Bunyan would connect to the Blue Ox) that goes all way up to Canada!

So late Friday night I got all of my equipment and food together and prepared to leave early Saturday morning for Bemidji.  After waking up and getting on the road by 7:15am, I was on my way to ride with Paul Bunyan.  The drive was 2 hours (give or take), which may sound like a long drive, but it went surprisingly quick and it was nice to go through some small towns and seen of the neat prairie landscapes that the western part of Minnesota has to offer.  Once I got to Bemidji, I was able to find trail parking fairly easily with the directions I printed out and after changing into my biking gear I was all set to take on the trail.

The plan was to bike from Bemidji to Walker and back.  Unfortunately, I started in the wrong direction, but once I found a map and got on the right trail it was smooth sailing.

The trail is completely paved, so it is great for any type of non-motorized transportation.  I saw people using road bikes, mountain bikes, recreational cruiser bikes, inline skates, and some just walked or ran.  Truly, anyone could use this trail.

As I biked, I got to see the damage from the recent wind storm that passed through the area and noticed a lot of sticks and a few bigger branches on the path, but almost all of the big stuff had been removed so there was no need to get off the bike to climb over a downed tree, except once.  As I pedaled, I went through lush wooded areas of pine trees and even got to see a deer bound across the path in front of me, but I also got great views of lakes, prairie, and quaint little towns along the way.  One town, Laporte, was even setting up for their 4th of July Celebration with a parade through the main street.  There were locals selling crafts and families getting the best viewing spots for the kids.  All in all a neat little town.

So I finally made it to Walker after 30 miles and started back to my car.  As I went along I decided to take it slow and really soak up being out in nature.  I made frequent stops on the way back to take some pictures (or because I was tired, I forgot the exact reason). 

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Once back to my car, I realized that I was tired, but also energized.  I had just traveled 60+ miles by bike through some of Minnesota’s most beautiful state parks and forests and got to see deer, snakes, lakes, and trees the entire way.  I felt truly revitalized.

Even as I drove the 2 hours back to Grand Forks, I thought to myself that people need to be out in nature even if just for a little while.  It allows us gain the balance that many of us are searching for in our life.

So get outside, take a walk in the woods or hike through a prairie.  Go check out Turtle River State Park a mere 30 minutes away from Grand Forks or watch birds at Kelly’s Slough National Wildlife Preserve, which is even closer or ride the Paul Bunyan State Trail.  Regardless of where you go, I am sure you will return energized from the experience and as always be prepared, be safe, and be a good steward out in nature.

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Posted on July 10, 2012, in Emotional, Environmental, Faculty & Staff, Fitness, Intramurals, Physical, Rock Wall, Ski UND, Social, Spiritual, UND Rec Sports and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Sounds like fun. I am going to give that trail a try.

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