Trail: Douglas State Trail

Description: This trail follows an abandoned rail line from Pine Island to the northwest corner of Rochester. It's billed as one of the oldest paved trails in Minnesota, and one look at the surface will tell you why. The pavement is in very rough condition and is practically unskateable, like the west side of Cedar Lake.

Getting there:
To get to the Pine Island trailhead, take Highway 52 south from Rosemount to the County Road 11 exit in Pine Island. Turn right (west), and the trailhead will be on the south side as you pull into town. There is also a trailhead in Douglas and one in the northwest section of Rochester, somewhere around the corner of County Roads 8 and 22.

Length: The trail is 12.5 miles long. I only skated the first 2.5 miles of it because it was in such poor condition.

Difficulty: The good news is that the trail is flat and mostly straight. The bad news is that it's in bad condition, with exposed aggregate and surface cracks. There are four gravel road crossings within the first 2.5 miles. The bad surface conditions would qualify this as a difficult trail.

Popularity/number of other users: There were a few other bikers along the trail, along with some hikers near Pine Island.

Surface conditions: About the worst surface conditions of any trail in Minnesota. The asphalt is in poor condition and there is a lot of exposed aggregate. It's very abrasive and not conducive for skating.

Scenery: This is a fairly scenic trail -- the trail is shaded with a canopy of trees, while there are pastures and farmlands on the sides.

Nearby restaurants: Probably something in Pine Island, especially in downtown or near Highway 52.

Water: None at the Pine Island trailhead, but you can probably find it at the grocery store in downtown.

Other nearby trails: The Cannon Valley Trail is in the same general area and would make a much, much better choice for skating.

Comments: If this trail were resurfaced, it would be enjoyable. As it is, it's unskateable. Don't bother with it. 

Links: Minnesota DNR - Douglas State Trail

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