From Mankato to Faribault, in southern Minnesota, this 39-mile paved bike trail leads through small towns and along farmland, woods, wetlands, and a dozen lakes including Sakatah (Dakota for "singing hills") Lake near Waterville.
A variety of wildflowers and animals, including deer, mink, rabbit, songbirds, hawks and owls, can be seen (and sometimes heard) along the trail. This former railroad bed was converted to a trail by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, creating a level, easygoing bike route with lots of shade and occasional stretches of sunny, open farmland.
It's easy to plan short or long rides along stretches of the trail. The trail passes through the villages of Madison Lake, Elysian, Waterville and Morristown. Along Sakatah Lake, cyclists pass through the Sakatah Lake State Park for a 3-mile stretch where a dense tree canopy cools the ride. The park offers a bicycling campground, picnic grounds, swimming and hiking trails. Parking and access to the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is available at all of the towns along the route. Check the DNR trail map to plan your ride.