SOUTHERN FLAVOR [ Southern Minnesota ] You might say that a big strike against southern Minnesota is that it has a shorter snowmobiling season than the rest of the state. But look at the 2017 season: International Falls saw temperatures in the 50s in February, and most area trails had to close by March. Meanwhile, southeastern Minnesota enjoyed a late February blizzard that dumped more than a foot of beautiful snow on the trails for a last hurrah. These days, you just never know. Add the south to your winter trips itinerary and you could have the best trails available in the state. The southern section of Minnesota runs the gamut from flat, open farm country on the South Dakota side to the river valley ridges and bluffs on the Wisconsin side. There’s a rich network of trails throughout every region in the south and it’s easily possible to ride across the state from border to border. Start in the east and head west to get a sense of how the land unfolds and smooths out across the plains. You’ll notice a lot of wind turbines in the western counties; this is windy country, which translates into the most gorgeous snowdrifts. Enjoy. GREAT TRAILS The Casey Jones Trail is broken into three sections: A 13-mile stretch between Pipestone and the Pipestone/Murray County line; that runs west to Lake Wilson; and a 6-mile loop between Currie and Lake Shetek State Park. Yes, a continuous run would be ideal, but each section of this trail is special, with lakes, creeks, woodlands and more hilly terrain than you’ll find elsewhere in the region. This is one of the state’s oldest authorized state trails and has been a favorite destination since the late 1960s. In Albert Lea, Big Island State Park offers seven miles of trails, including a spin along Albert Lea Lake, the area’s biggest body of water. A nice little run heads over to Big and Little Island, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the frozen lake all around you. The Freeborn County trail system continues outside of the park to offer another 300 miles of trail through hardwood forests, marsh areas and prairie. Keep an eye out for pheasants, white tail and fox. The Frosty Riders club maintains 150 miles of trail in the Worthington area, including very pretty runs along the Buffalo Ridge Railroad and through the Graham County Lakes county park area. These two lakes are known for walleye and pike, so pack your ice fishing gear. The Prairieland Trail runs north of I-90 between Fairmont and Blue Earth and connects with the Blue Earth River Trail to the north. This interesting landscape includes some of the last remaining marshland in the area. Expect numerous creeks and small ponds as you pass through wildlife management areas. SELFIE SPOT - MINI-YELLOWSTONE One doesn’t need to go to Yellowstone National Park to see bison from the seat of a snowmobile. Blue Mounds State Park in Rock County has bison roaming its prairies. The trail doesn’t go through their pasture, but it skirts fairly near. Remember to take your selfie from a respectable distance, and stay on the trail. TRIP PLANNER Austin CVB 507-437-4563 Caledonia Area CVB 507-725-TOUR Cannon Falls Chamber 507-263-2289 Fairmont CVB 800-657-3280 Faribault Area Chamber 800-658-2354 Historic Bluff Country Rushford 844-452-0409 Historic Mantorville Area Tourism Lake City Tourism Bureau Madelia Area Chamber 507-642-8822 Marshall Area Chamber 507-532-4484 Montgomery Chamber 507-364-8888 New Ulm CVB 888-463-9856 Owatonna Area Chamber 5077-451-7970 Red Wing CVB 651-385-5934 Sleepy Eye Chamber 507-794-3731 Southern Minnesota Lakes Region Elysian, Madison Lake, Waterville, Morristown 800-507-7787 St. Peter Area Tourism & Visitor’s Bureau 507-934-3400 Visit Winona 800-657-4972 Wabasha-Kellogg Area Chamber & CVB ROAD TRIP ATTRACTIONS Spomer Classic in Worthington is a mustsee for classic car enthusiasts. This museum features automobiles and memorabilia, including a huge collection of vintage neon dealership signs. The Jolly Green Giant stands in Blue Earth. At 55 feet tall — that’s five stories — this frozen foods mascot stands head and shoulders above your average road trip attraction. The Freeborn County Museum, Library and Historical Society in Albert Lea is an exceptional history center that details the region’s contributions to Minnesota history. One exhibit pays tribute to Eddie Cochran and Marion Ross, local kids who went on to become a pop star and a Happy Days actress. Another exhibit showcases the region’s role in the World Wars. The historic village is closed in winter but there’s still plenty to see here. (Photo by Caledo nia Sno-Gophers) 800-565-4158 Waseca Area Chamber 507-835-3260 Worthington Area Chamber & CVB 800-279-2919 Winter 2017 - 18 29