Happy 25th Anniversary to the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway!
The 54 miles of this nationally designated route pass through six cities and eight townships within Crow Wing and Cass counties. With Crow Wing County Road 16 as its spine, the byway unfolds at CSAH 66, looping south through Crosslake toward Breezy Point and north to Pine River. (Click to view map pdf)
The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway was designated as a Minnesota Scenic Byway in May 1998. Following its designation, a group of local citizens, with support from state and local partners, organized the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association, a 501c3 non-profit organization, whose purpose was, and still is, to manage the Byway. The Association was successful in receiving a National Scenic Byway Program grant to prepare a Corridor Management Plan (CMP) to guide the management, marketing, and monitoring efforts associated with the Byway. Work on the first CMP began in August of 2000 and was completed in May of 2001. Following an update in 2015, the PBSBA is currently working with the Crow Wing County Highway Department on the most recent CMP update that will keep the byway route’s guiding document strong.
Over these 25 years, byway partners, members, donors, friends and volunteers have united their efforts to bring so many great projects to fruition. One of the most popular projects, the Veterans Memorial Walking Trail, located along Crow Wing County Road 16, created with a National Recreation Trails grant through the DNR and a 50% local match, has brought a beautiful year round walking/cross country skiing option to Byway residents and visitors. Interpretive signage along the boardwalk across a wetlands area to Whiskey Island has become a popular spot within the Veterans Memorial Walking Trail site.
During the upcoming months, this column will highlight other Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway sites and projects, as the organization recounts what has, and continues, to make this national scenic byway an asset to celebrate.