Pine River, Minnesota

'Birthplace of the Paul Bunyan Trail' 

Paul Bunyan Trail


Why Is Pine River Called the "Birthplace of the Paul Bunyan Trail"?



In 1983, Burlington Northern Railroad made a decision to vacate the existing rail line from Brainerd to Bemidji.  Terry McGaughey, then President of the Pine River Chamber of Commerce and avid bicycle rider, received this information and requested a resolution from the Pine River Chamber of Commerce requesting the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources obtain the line, in its entirety, and develop the right-of-way into a recreational trail.  The Pine River Chamber made and passed such a resolution in the basement of the United Methodist Church in Pine River during one of its monthly meetings.  They then forwarded the resolution to the City of Pine River and the council likewise adopted a resolution and forwarded both resolutions to the State of Minnesota.

Pine River was the first community along the trail to make a resolution to create the trail and after fifteen years of effort, the Paul Bunyan Trail became reality. That is the reason we refer to Pine River as "The Birthplace of the Paul Bunyan Trail".

This 100 mile long, multiple use trail runs right through downtown Pine River.   Parking is available all seasons next to the trail.  The trail runs between Brainerd and Bemidji, passing through several smaller towns on the way.  The trail was constructed using the Burlington Northern Railroad grade.  Over one hundred miles of the trail is paved from Baxter to Bemidji.  The trail is mostly level and wheelchair accessible.



The paved portions of the trail can be used for hiking, biking, in-line skating and skate boarding.

Users can expect to travel about ten miles between towns and stops with services.

The undeveloped sections are ideal for snowmobiling and mountain biking. Studded snowmobile tracks are prohibited on the paved portion of the trail. 


This area is rich with history.   There are thirteen historic sites near the trail.

The Dakota and Ojibwa Indians have occupied this area for centuries.  As the logging industry grew, the railroad became dominant in the late 1800's and into this century.  Most of the surrounding towns along the trail way were built due to these two industries.

When completed, the Paul Bunyan State Trail will connect with the Blue Ox and Heartland Trails to form one of the largest "rail-trail" systems in the North America.

Being central to the southern and northern trail ends, Pine River is in a unique position on the Trail. The large parking area in the City provides the perfect starting or ending location to your bike trip.  Within a block of the trail you'll find several places to eat and many gift shops unique to the area. Gas stations and grocery stores provide all that's needed for your trip.  In the summer and fall months, a cool dip or fishing at the beautiful Pine River Dam Park, or easy overnight camping at Forbes Park, can add fun memories to your bike trip.  Pine River has all you need for a great time no matter how you use the Paul Bunyan Trail.

State Trail Rules

  • Stay on the trail
  • Keep to the right of the trail so others can pass you
  • All pets must be on a leash
  • Obey all traffic signs
  • Pack out all refuse and liter
  • Respect all landowner signs and property
  • Signal other trail users when passing
  • When passing horses, signal them well in advance to give them warning
  • Camp or have camp fires in designated areas only
  • Do not leave camp fires unattended
  • Do not disturb wild plants. Look don't touch
  • Trail users are legally responsible to follow state rules as described in Minnesota Regulations bulletin NR-20


Check out Minnesota Trails Magazine Website for updated Trail information @ www.

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