Walking & Hiking Trails on the Scenic Byway
Whether you're hankerin' for a day to explore the trails, or just stretching your legs a bit - the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway offers many delightfully satisfying walks.
- Breezy Point Walking Trails: The land for the trail was dedicated by developers in 1978 and became a part of the original plats. The property on which the trails are located is still owned by the City of Breezy Point. Through a joint agreement, the City and Pelican Conservation Club care for the trail’s two miles of developed area. A pleasant woods walk, the trail is available to the public at no charge. The trail can be accessed from Winter Trail off Ranchette Drive. Users can park on the roadside, or in the Ice Arena lot and walk over to the trail. Maps of the trail are available from the city clerk.
- Crosslake City Trail: Daggett Pine Rd. off CSAH #66. Offering scenic rolling hills, this paved path for pedestrians and bicyclists runs along the north side of Dagget Pine Rd. past the Crosslake Park, Playground, Library and Community Center. Starting at the Community Center begins over 3 mi. of natural hiking trails. In the winter these trails are transformed into great cross country skiing routes. A great stretch for the legs any time of year.
- Paul M. Thiede Fire Tower Park Built in 1934, the fire tower is listed on the national register of historic towers. Once a work site for forest rangers scanning the trees for signs of fire, it has recently been fenced up by the Brainerd DNR office citing a determination that it was now unsafe. The long-term plan for the tower site use is "not yet determined". But parking and picnic facilities welcome travelers to this site. An interpretive panel at the trailhead shares Paul Bunyan’s whimsical tale about fire towers and how Paul, Babe and the giant bees worked together to create the very first. Travelers may still walk from the parking lot to the fire tower but access to the tower is now fenced off.
- Paul Bunyan State Trail: With gentle hills and scenic panoramas, the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway meets the Paul Bunyan State Trail–a rails to trails project–at four locations. The terrain ranges from flat and open to hilly and scenic. By Spring of 2010 all 110 miles of the Paul Bunyan Trail will be continuously paved from Brainerd (including paved trail access to the Crow Wing State Park) to Bemidji.
- Pelican Lake Conservation Club: One mile south of CSAH #11 on CSAH #4 sits 20 acres at the Pelican Lakes Community Center. The site includes three ponds around a developed nature trail with observation platforms.
- Pelican Woods Cemetery & Nature Trails: Located about 1 mile north of the Breezy Gates on CSAH #11, just off Ski Chalet Dr. This site was designed and created with funding from the Pelican Conservation Club. Concern over the lack of a cemetery for Breezy residents sparked the Club’s decision to take on this project in 1999. Unobtrusive and quietly inviting to travelers wishing to stop for a bit to enjoy the tranquility offered by this beautifully landscaped and creatively designed, undulating walking path. Trail includes an informational tree walk.
- Rollie Johnson Natural and Recreational Area / Big Island on the Whitefish Chain: A rare surviving example of an undisturbed old-growth maple-basswood forest. Trees 150 years old tower up to 100 feet above the forest floor, sheltering a rich assortment of flowering plants unusual this far north in Minnesota. The butternut tree found here is the northwesterly-most record for this species. If the island escapes catastrophic intrusion, such as fire, tornado or human impact, this remarkable plant community may prosper for hundreds of years. The undisturbed, natural character of Big Island attracts scientists and ecologists who study forest processes and natural systems. Information gained from this unusual setting can be used to form ecological blueprints useful in creating and maintaining Minnesota's valuable resources for future generations.
- Uppgaard Wildlife Management Area: Donated to the DNR by the Uppgaard family in 1987, this 110 acre tract has been specially landscaped to attract various wildlife from deer to butterflies. Wide walking trails meander throughout the property and maps are available at the arched entry. There is no charge to enjoy this wildlife area. Free guided tours are held every Wednesday at 9:30 AM, May-August. Trails good for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross country skiing. No tag is required.
- Veterans Memorial Walking Trail: An interpretive panel at the trailhead tells the story of the disastrous 1958 fire that burned nearly 800 acres of timber. See new forest growth as you follow the marked trail through the pines and hardwoods. Stroll the wetland walkway and read about the flora and fauna. Enjoy the scenic view of Hay Creek from the pedestrian bridge that takes visitors across it. Volunteers from the Pequot Lakes American Legion, lead by Dave Badger, installed a 500-foot wetlands walk at the end of Ridge Path. That wetlands walk ended at an island. Later some of that same group of volunteers cleared a walking loop so hikers and walkers can take the approximately 1/4 mile ‘Island Loop’ around the perimeter of the island. The south end of the loop passes by the edge of the shrub swamp, then turns to the higher ground on the Hay Creek side. A resting bench is located at the top of the overlook— purportedly used by native Americans and early explorers such as Zebulon Pike to assess the surroundings.
- West Shore Drive: runs along the west side of Cross Lake from CSAH 16 to Co. Rd. 103, has a paved path for pedestrians and bicyclists. It winds along the edge of woods, and small lakes, and then empties onto the marked shoulder of the road for approximately .5 mi. as it nears the intersection with Co. Rd. 103. As you relax and begin to notice the scenery you'll likely spot birds, and possibly deer.