Biking the Paul Bunyan & Heartland Trails in Leech Lake MN

Biking the Paul Bunyan & Heartland Trails in Leech Lake MN

August 12, 2016

With the third largest lake in as our backyard, while you’re on the water it is easy to forget that Minnesota’s longest bike trails run along Leech Lakes shores and through Walker. With over a 120 miles of paved bike paths the Paul Bunyan and Heartland bike trails offer a one of a kind biking experience. Winding through towns and forests, over streams and rivers, and along the shores of many lakes, these trails offer the ultimate biking experience for enthusiasts and families alike, Especially during the Autumn months.

What to Bring On a Family Bike Trip

So you have brought your bikes to Leech Lake and you are about to take a ride on the Paul Bunyan and Heartland State trails, what else do you need? First things first at least one rider should carry a backpack or saddle on the trip to carry all the essentials. Snacks, Snacks, Snacks – while there are many restaurants along or just off the trail, a hungry child on the trail will not make for a good ride. Bring their favorite (easily transportable) snacks with and be sure to have at least three separate serving’s worth for each child. If you can, place a water bottle on each bike to give kids easy access and control over their water. Now that we have the primary essentials taken care of, let’s move on to the fun stuff!

If you bike south towards Hackensack be sure to bring swimsuits so everyone can cool off in the water and take a break from riding. A dip in the water always seems to make the ride go a bit smoother. If you are not ready to go for a swim when you reach Hackensack, don’t worry you will have another opportunity in Backus. Depending on where you start from you can also take a trip into Walker for a swim as well.

The Paul Bunyan and Heartland trails are perfect for family bike trips. The trails are largely flat and easy to ride, with plenty of spots to stop, rest, snack, and explore. We hope you and your family enjoy them as much as we do.


Biking Enthusiasts

If you are riding the trail with a group of biking enthusiasts or yourself, keep in mind that you will be passing through many charming small towns with a bevy of unique local shops not to be found anywhere else, so it is a great idea to bring a back-pack or saddles to transport those must have items from shops along the way. Shopping by bike helps to break up the ride and makes for a fun time.

If you are planning a long trip and are going to be 30 or more miles from your car it’s always a good idea to bring a patch kit and a portable bike pump, while an unlikely occurrence if you get a leak in one of the long wooded stretches it can become a long an time consuming walk back to the nearest town.

Otherwise you are on the longest trail system in the state, enjoy the beautiful scenery and nature that the trail has to offer. Including the many connected parks, including Chippewa National Park, Lake Itasca, and Crow Wing State Park.


Minnesota Fall Color Bike Rides

Fall offers the perfect time to ride the Paul Bunyan and Heartland Bike trails, with a reprieve from the heat of summer and the chill of winter it is one of our favorite seasons to bike the trails. If you time your trip right it also makes for one of the most beautiful seasons as well. From Leech Lake to the north the trails pass through long stretches of forest that display the most vibrant tapestry of colors as the seasons change. Enjoy hues of red and amber as you pass beneath the branches.

Use the MN DNR Fall Color Finder, and plan your bike trip as the colors reach their peak. With so much trail to explore you are sure to see every changing color possible on a bike trip this fall! You haven’t seen autumn colors until you have biked beneath them on the Paul Bunyan and Heartland trails, and don’t forget to bring your camera either!


The Leech Lake Area is the perfect place to start your ride, and offers many other great things to do from shopping to fishing, boating and more. If you are looking for lodging for your next bike trip, take a look at our wonderful Leech Lake lodging specials and find the perfect place to start your Journey on the Heartland and Paul Bunyan Trails.

We will see you on the trail!

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