The second edition of our “State of the Trails” report is out. Building on our previous efforts, this report provides a comprehensive assessment of the condition of all 22 paved state trails in Minnesota.
While this information can be useful for anyone wanting to plan a smooth bike trip, the real goal is to inform policy and planning decisions.
Keeping Minnesota State Trails in good condition requires continual investments. This report helps legislators and trail staff understand where rehabilitation is required, and also predicts when major replacement may be needed for each trail segment.
Overall, Minnesota’s paved state trails are in good condition but they continue to age, with most nearing midlife. We witnessed a decline just in the two years between our two reports. As such, it’s clear that the pace of trail rehabilitation needs to increase.
If it doesn’t, over half the state trails will have degraded into fair to very poor condition by the year 2034. This is also the year when a major funding source, the Legacy Amendment, is set to expire.
Overcoming this challenge is achievable. We identified a number of strategies for keeping Minnesota’s paved state trails up to an acceptable standard, one that balances user expectations with management constraints.
We see a bright future for Minnesota State Trails. The benefits they deliver in making Minnesota a better place to live, work, and visit, make them well worth the investments. They connect people to the outdoors, improve health, boost tourism, enhance safety, protect ecosystems, and are fun for people of all ages, means, and abilities.