Bike rides on the Root River State Trail
Discover the dramatic river carved blufflands of southeastern Minnesota. The Root River State Trail is a multiple use trail covering over 50 miles, through the quaint and picturesque rural communities of Fountain, Lanesboro, Whalan, Peterson, Rushford and Houston. This asphalt trail was mainly constructed upon an abandoned railroad grade which is generally level and wheelchair accessible. Newly paved in 1999, the eastern segment between Money Creek Woods and Houston is relatively more challenging than the western segment with a rather steep, half-mile segment that may not be suitable for all users.
Bicycling, in-line skating, and hiking are the main summer uses of the trail. Cross country skiing is popular in the winter. The Fillmore and Houston county Grants-in-Aid (GIA) trail system, which provides many miles of groomed snowmobile trails in the area, intersects briefly with the Root River State Trail.
The Root River State Trail provides outstanding views of the soaring limestone bluffs of the Root River Valley. Wildlife is abundant and sightings of wild turkey, deer, hawks and turkey vultures are common. Rattlesnakes, a state threatened and protected species, are occasionally found on rock outcrops, along the river bottoms, or sunning themselves on the trail. They should be left alone.
Historical buildings and rural communities along the trail provide sites of interest to trail users. They also provide many services. Campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, inns, resorts, restaurants, museums, outfitters and unique stores are found in many of the trail towns.
- Fountain: From Highway 52 take County Road 8 about one mile to parking lot by city park/softball field.
- Houston: Houston Nature Center, turn west on Plum Street off of Hwy 76, go one block.
- Preston: Highway 52 to Fillmore St. (Co. Road 12), approximately 1/2 mile west to the parking lot.
- Lanesboro: Parking along streets, at the parking lot by the Community Center and Sylvan Park. Overflow parking is at the Bass Pond.
- Rushford: From Highway 16, turn north on Elm Street (State Hwy. 43), go one block west. Parking lot is by old depot.
- Peterson: From Highway 16, turn west onto Highway 25 (Mill St.) into town; turn south on Fillmore St. to city park/campground.
- Whalan: On the streets downtown near the Whalan City Park.