Multi-use trails for hiking, biking, walking, skiing, ATVs, snowmobiles and more.

The Brainerd area has many trails to explore on your adventure and enjoy breathtaking nature all year long. Situated on the Paul Bunyan Trail which has more than 120 miles of paved trail between Brainerd and Bemidji, just minutes from 25-miles of mountain biking trails, and a short drive from some of central Minnesota’s best ATV trails, this is the place to be. There are also several paved trails within city limits and paved and off-road trails in the area parks.

Our trails are open to walking, hiking, use of ATV’s, biking and in-line skating. In the winter, our trails are use for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing which offers yet another view of our beautiful nature and wildlife.

ATV Trails

The Brainerd Lakes Area gives you access to hundreds of miles of Minnesota ATV trails with ample lodging options, waterparks, activities, dining, and more ensuring that everyone in your group has a blast rain or shine.


Crow Wing Southern Loop: 19 miles
Click here for ATV trail map
Season: 5/1 – 11/1

This Minnesota ATV trail connects to the twenty mile Pine Center Trail plus the thirty one mile Fort Ripley Trail/Ripley Connection. Much of the trail passes along farm and country landscapes. This trail follows township roads, occasionally sharing the road with highway licensed vehicles. Parking is available at the Brainerd Lakes Chamber Visitor Center eight miles south of Brainerd/Baxter.

Fort Ripley Trail and Ripley Connection: 31 miles
Click here for ATV trail map
Season: 5/1 – 10/31

This central Minnesota ATV trail is primarily flat and easy to ride with an occasional rolling hill. The trail narrows and winds through oak and pine covered hills near Sebie Lake, along the old Burlington Northern railroad grade. The trail is connected to Brainerd by the Crow Wing South Loop and offers additional riding on the Pine Center trail. Parking is available at the Brainerd Lakes Chamber Visitor Center eight miles south of Brainerd/Baxter.

Mississippi Northwoods

The Mississippi Northwoods area is located just east of Brainerd on highway 210. The area is 2,000 acres of multi-purpose county land with over 20 miles of trails much of which is open to ATV riding. This is a very scenic area with a variety of landscape to ride through.

Miller- Black Bear Trail: 19 miles
Click here for ATV Trail map
Season: 5/1 – 10/31

Located six miles west of Crosby Minnesota, the Miller – Black Bear trail travels 19 miles over rolling hills and past scenic overlooks of the Mississippi River. Six sites with picnic tables and grills are found along the trail.Watch for wildflowers in the spring! To access the parking area take Co. Rd. 30 north from Ironton for 3 miles. Turn South onto Co. Rd. 34 for 1.3 miles, then south again onto Co. Rd. 28. Take the first right and follow 1 mile to the parking area.

Emily/Outing ATV Trail: 56 miles
Click here for ATV Trail Map
Season: 5/01 – 10/31

Ranging from rocky and hilly to flat and open, beginners and advance riders alike will enjoy this trail. Many communities along the trail are ATV-friendly, allowing ATV travel within city limits. The trail is provided and maintained by Cass County and the Over the Hills Gang. Please be aware – portions of the trail share the road with vehicle traffic.

Please tread lightly on the environment, be courteous to others, respect private property and obey the law, you are contributing to the positive image of recreational motor vehicle activities. Responsible riders are also safe riders. Be sure to wear appropriate protective gear and maintain your machine. Don’t take chances that endanger yourself or others.


Please check trails for temporary closures prior to riding!

Visitor Alert:

Always check trail/road closures for what’s open to ride. Temporary closures may happen due to weather or special events. Logging and road work may temporarily affect some trails/roads too.
Click here to check ATV trail status

OHVs are generally permitted on state forest roads and trails in accordance with state forest motor vehicle use classifications and regulations.

Attention out of state travelers:

If you are not a resident of Minnesota and you’re operating an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), off-highway motorcycle (OHM) or off-road vehicle (ORV) on state or grant-in-aid trails, you’ll need a non-resident trail pass.
Click here for more information

Bike Trails

Visit Brainerd for a variety of exciting bike trails.

Discover the ultimate cycling experience in the heart of Minnesota! The Brainerd Lakes Area is your go-to destination for an unforgettable biking adventure. With an array of trails like the scenic Mississippi River Trail and the legendary Paul Bunyan Trail, plus hundreds of miles of picturesque, low-traffic routes, Brainerd caters to cyclists of all skill levels.

Embark on a journey through Brainerd’s breathtaking landscapes and make your biking holiday one for the books. Our meticulously curated routes stand out as a must-visit for anyone looking to explore Minnesota on two wheels. When planning your cycling getaway, remember that Brainerd isn’t just about the trails. It’s a complete package, offering a rich selection of accommodations, attractions, shopping, dining, and the intrinsic beauty of Minnesota’s natural playground.

A biking trip in Minnesota should be filled with stunning views and a variety of activities to enhance your experience. Brainerd delivers exactly that, making it the ideal choice for your biking escapade. Gear up for an adventure where Brainerd is not just a stop, but the highlight of your Minnesota biking journey.

Bike trail and routes maps:

Paul Bunyan trail Map (Brainerd to Nisswa) (14.8 miles)
Cuyuna Lakes State Trail Map (20 miles)
West Baxter/Sylvan Trail Map (23 & 32 miles)
Merrifield/Gull Dam Trail Map (31 & 34 miles)
South Long Lake Trail Map (31 miles)
Camp Jim Trail Map (26 miles)
Executive Acres Legionville Trail Map (19 miles)
Whipple Beach Trail Map (18 miles)
East Brainerd Trail Map (39 miles)
Gull Gallivant Trail Map (46 miles)
St Mathias Trail Map (32 miles)
Jacks House Trail Map (15 – 32 miles)

Maps for these Minnesota bike trails and more are available at the Paul Bunyan Cyclists website.

Mississippi River Trail Map

The Mississippi River Trail is a 3,000 mile long bikeway runs from Itasca State Park to the Delta Region at the Gulf of Mexico. Starting where America’s river is little more than stream it gains momentum until it forms the scenic bluff lined valley to the south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. As you explore the Mississippi River Trail you will come to our home,  Brainerd where there is something for everyone including shopping, dining, lodging, and bike services. Come spend a day or several days exploring our town and our scenic area and learn why Brainerd is a premier Minnesota Family Destination.

Click here to find bike rental, sales, and repair

Mountain Bike Trails

Brainerd is located just a few miles from the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails. This IMBA Ride Center is one of a handful of Silver-Level ride centers in the world.

Cuyuna Country State Recreation area was once a massive open pit iron ore mining operation. The mines have been closed for decades, but in recent years the mountain biking community, the state of Minnesota, and the Minnesota DNR have created over 25 miles of singletrack trails on an 800 acre site.

Combine these world class, purpose built, single track mountain bike trails with the activities, lodging, dining, and night life here in the Brainerd Lakes area and you have all the ingredients for a memorable Minnesota getaway. If you want to experience different areas and different off-road cycling trails in the same trip, no worries, Brainerd is also just a couple miles from the Pillsbury State Forest which offers over 27 miles of off-road cycling trails through scenic forest and lakes. Start with a ride through this beautiful forest then head off to the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails for a couple days of adventure again in pristine forest and some of Minnesota’s newest scenic lakes.

Brainerd, the lodging Hub for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails, offers you a great selection of hotels, indoor water parks, and RV Park all giving you easy access to the trails and centralized access to everything that the Brainerd Lakes area has to offer.

Trail Maps:

Winter Fat Tire Trail Map (Sagamore)
Cuyuna Lakes Trail Map
Pillsbury State Forest Trail Map

Here are some additional resources to help make your visit the the Pillsbury State Forest and the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails a memorable Minnesota getaway.

Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail
Cuyuna Lakes Chamber
Pillsbury Trail
Paul Bunyan Cyclists

Hiking Trails

If you are looking for scenic MN hiking trails then look no further than the Brainerd Lakes area, Minnesota’s natural playground.

Brainerd and Baxter Minnesota are known for the scenic lakes and rivers surrounded by pristine forests with miles of hiking trails available to our year round visitors.

Trails wind through the Crow Wing State Park, Pillsbury State Forest, Cuyuna Recreational Area, in addition to smaller local secrets like Fritz Loven Park which offers hiking trails along a scenic trout stream.

A Minnesota getaway should include great lodging, excellent dining, and centralized access to a variety of great hiking trails and Brainerd offer that and more. Come play with us and explore our beautiful Minnesota hiking trails and everything else that the Brainerd Lakes area has to offer.

Bird Watching

Minnesota bird watching is a great way to experience the beauty and natural therapy of nature.

Minnesota Bird watchers enjoy the natural beauty of the Brainerd Lakes area combined with the wide variety of things to do and the great selection of lodging and indoor waterparks. When planning your Minnesota Bird watching adventure, be sure to put the Brainerd Lakes Area at the top of your list. All the bird watchers in your family or group will be glad that you did. Kid’s bird watching is a great way to build appreciation for the great outdoors.

For the best Minnesota Bird Watching experience we recommend that our visiting bird watchers check out the areas listed below. Many bird watchers prefer to bring in an expert to help ensure that their Minnesota Bird watching experience is one to remember. For that we have you covered, call our friends at Minnesota Backyard Birds for a memorable Minnesota Bird Watching experience.


Our birding Images and birding reports are provided by a partnership with Visit Brainerd and MN Bird Guide – Judd Brink who provides birding tours at multiple locations in the Brainerd Lakes Area. Visit their website at today to learn more.

Click here for the weekly Bird Report

Get a free Minnesota Birding Kit


The Northland Arboretum
Located right in Brainerd the Arb is designated an important bird area by the Autobon Society and includes over 20 miles of trail. The arb also has scenic gardens, picnic areas and hosts many events and weddings.

Over 136 bird species frequent this IBA including 24 vireos and warbler species with over 53 likely breeding birds.

Over 136 bird species including 24 vireos and warbler species, and over 53 likely breeding birds frequent this beautiful IBA that includes a mosaic of grasslands and restored prairie, jack pine forest, wetlands, a stream, shrub bog and of special importance, a 200 acre jack pine savanna.

Northern harrier, Sandhill crane, Clay-colored sparrow, Vesper sparrow, Savannah sparrow, LeConte’s sparrow, Red-shouldered hawk, and Black-billed cuckoo have also been spotted here.

New – The Arb. has recently reestablished a Bluebird trail with 20 new boxes.

Pillsbury State Forest – Location Map – Website
This 25,000 plus acre forest is located just east of Brainerd and includes hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails.

Crow Wing State Park – Location Map – Website – Bird Checklist
Located just south of Brainerd this park offers hikling trails and historic trails along the Mississippi River.

Cuyuna State Recreation Area – Location Map – Website – Bird Checklist

The Cuyuna State recreation area is just a short drive east of Brainerd and offers an excellent variety of outdoor activities including bird watching. Beautiful forest and some of Minnesota’s youngest lakes.

Fitz Loven Park – Location Map

Located in Lakeshore MN just north of Brainerd this 80 acre park includes trails, picnic area, sledding hill, play area, and a beautiful trout stream with brook trout.

Horseback Trails

Miles of Minnesota Horseback riding trails through scenic forests and around beautiful lakes.

One of Brainerd’s more popular destinations is the Pillsbury State Forest which offers miles of scenic Minnesota horseback riding trails. Want the simple pleasure of a trail ride but do not have a horse. No problem, Brainerd offers several great trail riding options.

When enjoying the natural beauty of the Brainerd Lakes area on your Minnesota Horseback riding adventure be sure to stay at one of our great Brainerd and Baxter HotelsWater Parks, or RV Park for centralized access to everything that the Brainerd Lakes area has to offer.

Motorcycle Touring

Take a scenic Minnesota motorcycle tour of the Brainerd Lakes Area.

Brainerd Minnesota offers ample opportunities for scenic motorcycle rides and motorcycle tours throughout the greater Brainerd Lakes Area. Take a ride around Gull Lake and make a stop at one or more of the great restaraunt/bar’s along the route. Head east to the Cuyuna Lakes Area and explore some of Minnesota’s newest and most scenic lakes and forests. From the Cuyuna area you can head north and ride the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway. Cut over to Highway 371 and head south back to Brainerd and Baxter.

Along the way you will find great restaurants, unique towns, and great activities to keep the group busy for days. A few key stops depending on the group would be Brainerd International Raceway for drag racing and motorcycle racing, This Old Farm at Paul Bunyan Land which is the largest single owner antique collection in Minnesota (be sure to get your picture taken with Babe The Blue Ox). Take a dinner or lunch cruise on the new Destiny Cruises on Gull Lake, shred the red on the Cuyuna Lakes mountain bike trails, check out the new Safari North Wildlife Park, or any of the other great Brainerd Lakes Area Activities.

For a bucket list experience be sure to take on the performance driving school at BIR where you and your group will drive one hundred and thirty mile an hour sprint racecars around the northern midwests largest speedway. Or rent scuba gear and head over to the Cuyuna mine pits to dive among standing underwater forests and old mining equipment. These are experiences that will leave your group talking for years to come.

Use Brainerd/Baxter for your Minnesota Motorcycle tour base and you will have a great variety of lodging options including hotels and indoor waterparks. All of the Visit Brainerd properties give you centralized access to the entire Brainerd Lakes Area.


A: Gull Lake – Estimated drive time 50m
Although this is the shortest one it is a favorite of locals due to scenic views and a wide variety of dining and watering holes along the route. Take this route and then head into Nisswa for unique shops.

B: Double Casino Run – Estimated drive time: 3h 17m
Take a scenic ride to the Grane Casino Mille Lacs then head over to Northern Lights Casino in Walker. Estimated drive time of three hours and 40 minutes plus time at the casinos.

C: Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway – Estimated drive time 1h 54m
The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway travels around the Whitefish Chain of Lakes with more than 119 miles of shoreline.  Crosslake sits on the Eastern shore of Cross Lake where you’ll find a variety of restaurants offering outdoor patio dining with a fantastic view. Visit the US Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Area for a lakeside picnic and  walk across the Pine River Dam build in the late 1800’s.

D: Northern Loop – Estimated drive time 2h 34m
This route runs you through the Cuyuna Lakes Area with some of Minnesota’s newest scenic lakes and forests.