The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Route
The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway is a 54-mile route located smack-dab in the middle of the state - making it an easy destination whether coming from the Twin Cities area, the Iron Range or even the western portion of Minnesota.
This particular route had us meeting just south of Baxter on Hwy 371 at the beautiful new Travel Information Center (TIC). This TIC is filled with great displays, a friendly statue of Paul Bunyan and a complete gift shop that really put us in a "lakes area" frame of mind.
We then headed north through Baxter and west on Cty Rd 77. There are some great views on #77, especially as you come down the hill between The Classic and The Legacy golf courses and beautiful Dade Lake is right in front of you.
There's also some great riding on the west side of Gull Lake on the road that most locals refer to as "the roller coaster." The road itself, with tight corners and mogul-like rollers can have you wanting to roll down on that throttle. So be sure to watch your speed and don't give the "black & whites" from the City of Lake Shore a reason to really slow you down.
We then got back on Hwy 371 and had a quick ride north through Nisswa and into Pequot Lakes. Pequot is actually the starting point of the Paul Bunyan Byway as is noted by the Paul Bunyan Bobber Park. There you'll find one of Paul's chairs and a statue of Paul's favorite side-kick, Babe. All staged
under the landmark Pequot Lakes' bobber (water) tower.
We then headed east on Cty Rd. 11 towards Breezy Point. This is where we really started to take in the beauty of the lakes area; rolling hills, lush green forest areas, marshes and lots of water.
Heading north on Cty Rd. 11 at Breezy wrapped us around Pelican Lake and up to Cty Rd. 3. Going north on #3 we were heading right into the Cross Lake area. Located on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, Cross Lake is a water-buffs paradise with up-north character and lakeside flavor that covers over 121 miles of shoreline. As a matter of fact, the city itself covers 37 square miles, with more than 1/3 of it being covered by water.
After a quick lunch at the Riverside Inn, which is a quick 2 block walk from the Dam Bridge, we swung into the Crosslake Historic Log Village. When you step into the Village it's like stepping back in time to the 1800s, complete with a general store, tourist camp, logger's camp, and more.
Then we continued on Cty Rd 3 to Pine River. There we chatted with some local children who were casting for their favorite pan fish just below the dam. We also stopped at the Historic Pine River Depot, which is also a tourism center.
Then we headed south towards Jenkins, MN, where we paid a visit to another Paul Bunyan statue. And then it was a quick jaunt east and north on Cty Rd 16 to The Warf, a great little restaurant that sits on the channel connecting Rush Lake and Cross Lake, to complete another great ride on a beautiful Minnesota Scenic Byway.