The Root River Trail: A Blast through The Past

By Friend of Pedal MN

Written by Sofia Rappa

Root River Trail bikingMinnesota is a state filled with alluring history around each corner. Along the Root River State Trail in southeast Minnesota, you’re bound to discover something new and invigorating. Whether you choose to start in Fountain, Harmony, Lanesboro, Houston, Peterson, Preston, Rushford or Whalan, you’re destined to have a good time.

The Root River State Trail is a paved 42-mile adventure that begins in Fountain and ends in Houston. To its foundation, the trail was built on history—literally. Constructed on an abandoned railroad, the trail is generally level and wheelchair accessible.

Begin or end your course in Fountain, where you can view a sinkhole approximately half a mile out from the trailhead. There is even a bridge you can walk on that overlooks the vast opening.

Forestville Mystery CaveAfter biking a bit, take a nice refreshing pit stop in Preston. Here you’ll find a unique chance to cool down in some natural air conditioning. Take a journey down into the impressive Mystery Cave, which is a steady temperature of 48 degrees year round. Here you will learn about the rich history behind the cave, as well as get an up-close look at some breathtaking cave formations, and even come face to face with some fossils.

Continue your way along the trail to historic Lanesboro, where you will discover a slower pace of life. Lanesboro has been voted one of "America’s Prettiest Towns" by Yahoo. This scenic beauty and small town charm is not something you want to miss.

As you continue along the trail’s windy path, you will soon find yourself in the town of Peterson as you intersect with the main street in town. Peterson is a town filled with Norwegian culture. Make a stop at the Peterson Station Museum, including the original train depot with many of the depot’s original furnishings.

International Owl Center in HoustonVenturing on further you’ll pass through the town of Rushford, another not-to-miss destination. The trail runs adjacent to the town’s historical depot, housing not only a museum but an indoor rest area for travelers as well. The trailhead is within walking distance of many attractions, such as restaurants, lodging, shops and even a lefse factory.

The city of Houston is the last stop along the Root River Trail. Houston is a great place to enjoy numerous outdoor activities. The trailhead has an 18-acre park to explore and enjoy. Why not stay a while and checkout the International Owl Center? The center’s mission is to advance the survival of wild owls through education and research.

Regardless of where you choose to begin or what direction you decide to go, the Root River Trail offers a ride to remember. Rich in history and fun, it’s an adventure worth taking.

Find more great Minnesota bike trails and plan your next ride today.