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Last segment of Paul Bunyan State Trail slated for completion in July

BRAINERD, Minn. -- Terry McGaughey’s dream is nearly complete.

The Paul Bunyan State Trail founder had a vision for a bicycle and pedestrian trail stretching through lake country using former railroad beds in a new way.

With a push across the nation to encourage healthy lifestyles and activity across ages from children to senior citizens, the Paul Bunyan Trail provides 112 miles of Minnesota landscape.

This summer — about the Fourth of July — the last segment of the trail connecting Baxter to Crow Wing State Park will be completed.

Nancy Cross of Brainerd Community Action said a celebration of McGaughey’s accomplishment as the driving force behind the trail’s establishment is planned for July 27.

McGaughey died in 2010.

The celebration this summer is expected to include a bicycle ride from the Baxter trail head to Crow Wing State Park with a lunch at the park.

Cross said a publication is planned to celebrate and recount the story of how the Paul Bunyan Trail started in 1985 and its completion in 2014. About 15,000 copies of the one-time publication will be given away.

In 2010, the portion from Walker to Bemidji was completed, leaving only the Brainerd-Baxter to Crow Wing State Park section yet to be paved.

When the trail is completed, people will be able to ride through northern scenery and 16 rural communities along the parkway.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Paul Bunyan State Trail is visited by more than 650,000 users a year.

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