Central Lakes Trail
out and enjoy the beautiful gem known as the Central
It begins at the southeast edge of Fergus Falls and is
available for all to enjoy. This 14 foot wide, 55 mile long,
nearly level, paved trail is a superb asset for residents of
the region as well as visitors. It is one of the nicest
paved trail corridors in the state. You will likely feel
like you are in a narrow park that just keeps going on and
The trail is open to non-motorized visitors with the
exception of snowmobiles during the winter season. It is
great for walking, running, bicycling, in-line skating,
roller skiing, wheelchairs, etc. No fees are charged!
The trail is built on a former railroad line stretching
between Fergus Falls and Osakis. It additionally passes
through the communities of Dalton, Ashby, Melby, Evansville,
Brandon, Garfield, Alexandria, and Nelson. The trail
traverses through, or next to, a scenic mixture of
woodlands, grasslands, lakes, wetlands, and farm country.
The frequently elevated former railroad grade provides for
spectacular views of the surrounding area and its wildlife.
In other locations, the trail passes between steep wooded
banks, giving a cool, shaded refuge from the mid-day sun.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation land corridor
through which the trail passes is generally about 100 feet
wide, allowing for a profusion of wildlife, wildflowers, and
a variety of trees and plants. It is very common to see
deer, rabbits, beaver, muskrats, ducks, turtles, and a large
number of bird species, including an occasional eagle along
the trail. Wildflowers are very common and include large
numbers of yellow Lady Slippers and the less common, but
more spectacular, Pink Lady Slipper.
trail gives users a break from many of the dangers of the
highway. While there are occasional road crossings for which
to be cautious, they are fairly infrequent and are well
marked with signs. As an example, the 10 mile stretch of
trail between Fergus Falls and Dalton has only one highway
and two gravel road crossings. Trail users find themselves
simply enjoying the experience. It's one of those special places you can
take the kids for a safe bike ride.
Some sections of the trail are greatly separated from roads,
while other stretches are within sight of them. In general,
the trail is quite isolated from nearby roads between Fergus
and Dalton, between Ashby and Evansville, and between
Garfield and Osakis. The sections between Dalton and Ashby
and that between Evansville and Garfield are typically
within view of a highway, but still a very nice place to
Most trail users spend an hour or two on the trail, while
others spend the day or even multiple days. Since it passes
through so many communities (typically one every 7 miles or
so), there is normally plenty of access to water, snacks,
restaurants, parks, etc., along the way. Many of these
communities are providing facilities specifically for trail
users. They include shelters, bathrooms, picnic tables,
benches, parking areas, connecting community trails, helpful
Sometimes bikers ride part of the trail and find lodging in
one of the communities along it, returning the next day.
Others ride one way down the trail and get "picked up" by a
friend. Some even bike or skate to Alexandria and catch the
It doesn't end there!
The Central Lakes Trail is connected to the Lake Wobegon
Trail; which extends from Osakis to St. Joseph (48 miles)
and also to Holdingford. An additional connection from the
Lake Wobegon Trail
to the Morrison County trail has been completed. This
results in a total paved trail length of approximately130
It is yours to enjoy! Please follow the rules, pick up after
yourself, and have a great time on the trail with the
rapidly growing number of us already out there.
Designed by Midwest