Welcome to the Lake Wobegon Trail, where all the tailwinds are strong, all the views are good-looking and every ride is above average!
Settle in for a stretch of this 60 mile asphalt trail, which has endpoints in Osakis and Waite Park, with many stops in between. This trail was originally made famous by radio personality Garrison Keillor from A Prairie Home Companion, with his fictional town of Lake Wobegon in Central Minnesota. Small towns give way to wetlands, grassy plains, deciduous forests and cropland as you travel through rural Minnesota. Highlights include the longest covered bridge in Minnesota, located on the Holdingford stretch, and close access to the famous St. John’s University.
Along the Trail
Start your trip on the eastern end of the trail at Rivers Edge Park in Waite Park and travel across the Sauk River on this newest stretch of the Lake Wobegon Trail.
The St. Joseph trailhead is easy to find, just under the water tower. A few miles west of St. Joseph, see the old town of Collegeville, which now consists of only a few homes, but once had a popular train depot, boarding house, post office and store. You can turn left at Collegeville for a 2.5-mile side trip to Saint John’s University. At Avon, you’ll find shelters, bathrooms, a water fountain and a two-storied lookout tower/shelter that gives you a bird’s eye view of the surrounding region.
The next 5.5 miles are perhaps the most beautiful along this stretch of trail, with deeper woods, prairies and lakes. Keep an eye out for Lady’s Slipper orchids in May and June.
Just west of Albany, a spur of the Lake Wobegon Trail goes north to Holdingford, home of Minnesota’s longest covered bridge. This spur connects with the paved Soo Line Trail at the county line and offers pastoral views of a natural landscape.
The Soo Line trail goes through Bowlus, crosses the Mississippi River at Blanchard Dam and ends at a trailhead on Highway 10.
West of Albany, you’ll find Freeport, the birthplace of Lake Wobegon. Garrison Keillor is said to have had the inspiration for some of his fictional places here.
Head west to Melrose, home of the historic St. Mary’s Church and Rectory and the Melrose Area Museum. The official Melrose Trailhead is across the road near the Melrose Feed Mill.
When you arrive in Sauk Centre, take a detour to see the Original Main Street made famous by Sinclair Lewis in his novel, Main Street. Farther up, you will find a city trail dropping back to Sinclair Lewis Park where you can find camping, bathrooms and parking. The 12-mile stretch between Sauk Centre and Osakis veers off into the country through the tiny town of West Union before entering Osakis, the western terminus
To the west of Osakis, continue on to the Central Lakes State Trail, a 55-mile paved trail to Fergus Falls. On the eastern end of the trail, an extension into Waite Park the so-called Saintly Seven, is currently being worked on. At the Stearns/Morisson county line to the north, the Wobegon connects to the paved Soo Line Trail.