Lake Wobegon Trails History
Welcome to The Lake Wobegon Trail website! The Lake Wobegon Trail is a 62-mile long, 10-foot wide, bituminous surfaced hike-and-bike pathway. The trail, which opened on September 30, 1998, extends through the Central MN counties of Stearns and Todd from the city of St. Joseph to the city of Osakis. The trail also has an extension on the west side of Albany heading northeast to Holdingford and the Stearns/Morrison County line.
The Soo Line trail begins at the Morrison County line and continues to Blanchard Dam and on to Hwy 10 as a paved trail and unpaved from there to Superior, WI just south of Duluth, MN. The west end of the trail connects to the Central Lakes Trail which is a paved trail and runs from Osakis to Fergus Falls through the beautiful prairie pothole country of western Minnesota.
The Lake Wobegon trail runs on the MN/DOT rail corridor formerly owned by Burlington Northern Railroad Company successor to the original Great Northern Railroad founded by James J. Hill. The trail is also available for snowmobiling; however, use of metal studs on snowmobiles is prohibited on the trail to help protect the trail from damage caused by the studs on the snowmobile tracks. The trail has grown substantially since it was first opened and further additions to the trail are continuing to be planned. The trail has already seen a lot of use by bicyclists, snowmobilers, roller-skiers, roller bladers, and of course, walkers.
The trail was originally the idea of the Albany Jaycees, who spent many hours raising money and support for the trail. Many other local community organizations helped complete the trail. Planning for the trail began in the fall of 1994, and fundraising began in the fall of 1995. Construction costs were a joint effort between the Federal ISTEA (Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act), State DNR Regional Trail Initiatives Grant, Albany Jaycees Fundraisers (including city contributions), Central Minnesota Initiative Fund (McKnight Foundation) and Stearns County. With many supporters including Representative Oberstar, who helped procure the additional funding needed, the trail was approved and built.
The final segment of the Lake Wobegon Trail will be the “Saintly Seven Miles.” It will connect St Joseph east to the Mississippi River through Waite Park and St Cloud. The extension will create an opportunity for a major east/west “greenway”, similar to the Minneapolis Greenway, providing a safe alternate transportation route for walkers, bikers and roller bladers to cross the St Cloud Metro. It will also provide a connector for other metro trail systems in Waite Park, St Cloud, Sartell, Sauk Rapids and St Augusta.
The Saintly Seven Miles will also provide a connection to the national Mississippi River Trail (MRT) which runs from the headwaters at Lake Itasca to the Mississippi Delta in New Orleans. The planned construcion of the ROCORI Trail will link to the Glacial Lakes trail southwest of St Cloud and is expected to connect to the Lake Wobgon Trail as well. The Minnesota State Veterans Trail is planned to link the Paul Bunyan and Heartland Trails from Brainerd to the Soo Line Trail near Bowlus to the Lake Wobegon Trail. The completion of these connections will create a nearly 600 mile paved rail trail system in Central Minnesota and the longest such trail in the world!