Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail

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Once an old railroad corridor, the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is now a 39-mile paved trail connecting Mankato to Faribault. Cutting across Minnesota’s picturesque farmland and dense hardwood forest, this trail is perfect for a weekend getaway from the bustling Twin Cities.

Written by

Molly O'Connor


39.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

55.4 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

4 hours

2-4 hours


All Seasons

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only


Fees Permits





In less than an hour’s drive, you can be at the western trailhead of the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail. In the 19th century, this converted rail bed carried trade goods from Chicago to Mankato. When the rail was abandoned, snowmobilers would use the train corridor to go from town to town. It wasn’t until the 1980’s when the local community decided to make it into a multipurpose trail.

What Makes It Great

From Mankato, the trail rises in elevation very slightly and for the first couple miles, you can see country homes and local traffic buzz around you. It isn’t until you cross under highway 22 that the trail gains its natural characteristics. The landscape changes from pastures to young maple-basswood forest to marshy wetland and for a few miles, the trail stays pretty flat. You whiz by several lakes, which often have benches to rest your weary legs, while simultaneously offering some of the trails most picturesque views. During this section, there are very few road intersections, so crank up your gears and work up a sweat. There is no better place to work on your cadence or pedal stroke.

After 15-20 miles, it becomes evident that there are dramatic changes in the surrounding environment. This is because the trail is situated in an ecotone, which is when two biological communities transition within a certain area. In this region, the once 5000-acre “big woods” forest dominated the lands, but due to logging and urban development, these forests have disappeared and rolling prairies and farmland have taken over. During your ride, you will notice a dense tree canopy above you. This is one of the few pockets where the big-woods forest still thrives. Especially during the portion through Sakatah Lake State park, the trail is completely covered in a dense canopy of oak and maple, characteristic of a big-woods ecosystem.

As you bypass marshlands, hardwood forest, meadows, and prairies, there is a myriad of wildlife to see. In the hardwood forests, look for deer, fox, badgers, and woodchucks. If you listen hard enough, you may even hear a hooting owl. In the meadows, you may see Baltimore orioles, bobolinks, or hear the sedge wren’s distinctive birdsong. And along the lakes and streams, herons and cranes pose in the marsh grasses.

For the adventurous type, there are even bicycle campgrounds in Sakatah Lake State Park that can make your day ride into a multi-day journey. The park also offers great hiking trails through big-woods forest and pristine prairie.

Who is Going to Love It

With whatever adventure you choose, Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is a good option for people in the Twin Cities to stretch their legs and see something new.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

There are eight parking lots available along the trail, and the most western one is situated just north of Mankato. In total, it would be 39 miles to bike the whole way, but it is easy to shorten or lengthen your route to suite your preference. You can even connect to the North Minnesota River Trail to add on some extra mileage.

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Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail

Minneapolis, MN,
44.202677, -93.625819

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