Just two weeks after a snowstorm made for the perfect inaugural Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout mountain bike celebration, 70-degree temperatures have many mountain bikers thinking about the red-dirt trails that also lie within the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.
They’ll have to wait — the main mountain bike trails there will likely remain closed for some time. But the trails that were the centerpiece of Whiteout — in the Sagamore Unit near Riverton — are open for hiking and biking. Just use common sense so as not to destroy the trails in the Sagamore Unit, the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew said.
On the paved trail side in the greater Brainerd lakes area, the Paul Bunyan State Trail (PBST) is almost entirely ice- and snow-free. It’s that way all the way up to where the PBST hooks up with its sister trail — the Heartland Trail — near Walker. Heartland is clean through Walker, but just north of town, near where the PBST and Heartland split, the stretch of trail was completely snow-covered on Tuesday. That stretch is heavily shaded and gets heavy snowmobile traffic during the winter. But now, most of that snow may be gone, too.
Even farther north, construction is scheduled to begin Monday on the Paul Bunyan State Trail and bridge project spanning Highway 197 in Bemidji. Construction is to be completed around Aug. 15, weather permitting.
The new bridge and trail will create a continuous connection between the city of Bemidji trails along Lake Bemidji to downtown and to the Paul Bunyan State Trail on the south side of Lake Bemidji.
The project will provide a safe trail crossing at a very busy city intersection – Highway 197 and First Street. It will nearly complete the Paul Bunyan State Trail development on the northern end of the trail, except for a one-half mile segment along Clausen Avenue, which may be completed later this year or in 2013. The only other remaining undeveloped section of the Paul Bunyan State Trail is between Crow Wing State Park and Baxter — to be completed in 2013.
More information on the Paul Bunyan State Trail is available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/paul_bunyan.
For updates on trails in the greater Brainerd lakes area, follow Brian S. Peterson, outdoors editor, via Twitter at www.twitter.com/brian_speterson or check the trails report that will appear weekly in Outdoor Traditions in the Dispatch’s Weekend Edition.
— Brian S. Peterson