Minnesota earns ‘Best Trails State’ designation
Technically, the award wasn’t presented to the Brainerd Lakes Area, but this region surely can take ownership of the honor!
Minnesota recently earned the “Best Trails State” designation from American Trails, a national nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail types ranging from hiking and bicycling to snowmobiling and cross country skiing. The “Best Trails State” award is presented every two years by American Trails. Earlier this year, Minnesota was ranked the fourth most “bicycle friendly” state in the country by the League of American Cyclists.
The Brainerd Lakes Area owns a piece of these awards because of its many high quality trail systems. Hiking and bicycling options abound here, most notably with the Paul Bunyan State Trail, Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway and the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail, which will debut its mountain bike trail system this summer. Many of these multi-use trail systems offer recreational opportunities year-round. Additionally in the winter months, the Brainerd Lakes Area boasts one of the best snowmobiling trail systems in the Midwest, with more than 600 miles of groomed trails, as well as great trails for cross country skiing.
Most recently, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy named the Paul Bunyan State Trail their “Trail of the Month” because of it’s year-round use, winding nature through beautiful forests, and the small-town charm of the 16 communities it connects.
Thank you to all – the organizations and many volunteers – who support our trail systems in the Brainerd Lakes Area and helped our state achieve this “Best Trails State” designation. Our trail system, as a major draw for visitors to the Brainerd Lakes Area, helps drive our economy.
A University of Minnesota economic impact study found that spending at Minnesota trails totaled more than $2.4 billion in 2008 and that some 30,900 full-time and part-time jobs were supported by trail spending. Walking and hiking are the most popular activities on Minnesota trails, followed by biking, running, inline skating, ATV riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.