Bike the Lake Wobegon Trail, Northwest of St. Cloud

By Explore Minnesota

Biking the Lake Wobegon Trail near Holdingford
Two bicyclists take a fall ride on the Lake Wobegon Trail near Holdingford

The flat, peaceful Lake Wobegon Trail weaves a 62-mile route through central Minnesota’s charming rural towns, abundant dairy farms, lakes and streams.

Fictional Lake Wobegon is the quintessential Minnesota small town. It was built, character by character, in the imagination of storyteller and humorist Garrison Keillor, who reported the "News from Lake Wobegon" on his long-running public radio show "A Prairie Home Companion."

Lake Wobegon is based, in part, in the rural communities north of St. Cloud. Many of these little towns are now linked by the paved Lake Wobegon Trail, allowing cyclists to enjoy a peaceful ride through a quiet countryside of dairy farms, lakes and streams. In today's bustling world, where even small cities seem to have traffic jams, the towns along the trail are a big step away from the hustle and bustle of city life, reminders of a simpler era.

The Lake Wobegon Trail is roughly Y-shaped, running west about 50 miles from St. Joseph to past Sauk Centre, with another arm heading northeast from Albany, a town of about 2,700 right off I-94, for about 20 miles.

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Two riders on the Lake Wobegon Trail on a sunny summer day

The trail’s secluded northern arm travels across lush farmland with views of quilted fields, rolling hills and gurgling streams. A trailhead with parking and restrooms in Albany makes a good starting point, or fuel up with a bite to eat somewhere along Railroad Avenue—the town's main street—just a block off the trail.

Turn onto the northern spur of the trail at the west side of Albany. After about 9 miles, you'll reach the famous village of Holdingford, the "Gateway to Lake Wobegon," which Keillor himself described as the "most Wobegonic" town in the country. Here you'll follow the trail through a barn-red covered bridge over Two Rivers, built over an old railroad trestle. Stop for a break at the Holdingford trailhead, with a picnic shelter and restrooms, and 

The trail continues winding north through the country to the village of Bowlus (pop. 250), and reaches the Blanchard Dam on the Mississippi River four miles past town. (The trail ends at Hwy. 10 a couple of miles further.) The one-way trip from Albany to the Mississippi is just over 20 miles, for a round-trip of about 41 miles; reward yourself with a DQ back in Albany!