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Popular 6-mile bicycle trail at Itasca State Park to be closed until mid-June for reconstruction

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The six-mile paved bicycle trail that goes from Douglas Lodge to the Mississippi headwaters area at Itasca State Park in Park Rapids is about to undergo major reconstruction, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

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All of the existing asphalt will be removed this fall. The trail will be regraded and, in the spring, it will be given a new coat of blacktop. The work is scheduled to be completed by mid-June.

“Once this project is done, the trail will be smoother and safer for bicyclists,” said Jeff Karels, assistant park manager.

The majority of the $1.5 million project will be paid for with state bonding dollars. The rest will come from a federal recreational trail program grant and from the parks and trails fund, created after Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008.

While the bicycle trail is closed, Wilderness Drive will remain open for bicyclists who don’t mind sharing the road with motor vehicles. The 10-mile, one-way scenic drive heads west from the headwaters and ends near Douglas Lodge. There are many spectacular sights along the way, including a couple of Minnesota’s tallest pine trees.

For a map and other information about the park, including details about renting bicycles, visit www.mndnr.gov(www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca) or contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157, toll-free 888-646-6367, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or at info.dnr@state.mn.us.

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