We'd hoped to ride part of the Paul Bunyan State Trail during our time in Minnesota. This celebrated trail is the longest continuously paved rail-trail in the US, at 115 miles total. We'd missed out on riding the southern terminus during our ill-fated stay in Crow Wing State Park earlier, but we had a second chance to ride a part of the trail.
The Paul Bunyan trail intersects the Heartland Trail just a few miles east of Akeley, where we were staying, so we hopped on it there. I knew from looking at the map that there was a hilly section coming up, but it started out nice and flat.
After a couple of flat miles, we reached this roller coaster section. It was a challenge even for me, but no problem for Barry! The hills actually continued for about seven miles by my bike computer, not just the 3.5 advertised. Barry thought this was some of the best cycling he'd ever experienced, between the gorgeous scenery, challenging climbs and exilarating descents,, and peacefulness (no cars and almost no other cyclists). That's saying a lot after all the miles he's ridden over the years!
Our goal for this ride was Hackensack. Total mileage to and from Akeley was around 43.
Finally we reached the end of the hilly, curvy section and merged with the straight, flat part of the trail, passing a couple of small lakes.
We passed a lovely farm with the most amazing garden. The hard-working gardener told us that gardening, for her, was not as hard as riding a bike. To each her own; I know how much work a garden like this would take. Stunning!
Her friendly dog came out to greet us as we took a few photos. Once he'd sniffed us and ensured we meant no harm, he trotted right back to his owner.
We reached our goal of riding to the city of Hackensack. The trail is a big deal here, as is Paul Bunyan. His sweetheart was born here, and her statue dwarfs the statue of Paul himself.
Next on the agenda, and even more important to us, goodies! Barry had researched online and found this awesome ice cream parlor, the Big Dipper, so of course we had to stop in.
The extensive flavor list made choosing almost impossible.
We bought two slices of strawberry-rhubarb pie and some delicious ice cream. Also a couple of cookies to take back with us!
After stuffing our faces, it was time to hit the trail back to Akeley. The miles back and the hills we had to climb in reverse would burn at least some of the calories we just ingested.
I helped a turtle cross the trail. Always love doing that, so long as it's not a Snapper!
Much tree damage was in evidence along the hilly part of the trail. This area was especially hard hit by the intense storms a couple of weeks prior that I have mentioned before in this blog. The damaged trees had been cleared off the trail, but the remnants remained.
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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