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Root River Recreation

In the heart of Bluff Country, Lanesboro is the premier destination for outdoor recreation, Lanesboro is situated on the Root River State Trail, a paved trail system that connects bikers, hikers, in-line skaters, and cross-country skiers to 60 miles of trails when connected with the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail. Find excellent hiking trails at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center and Isinours State Forest.  The Root River is the perfect place to cool off on a hot day by kayaking, canoeing or tubing, and there are renowned spring-fed streams to fly fish or reel in an elusive trout.

We enjoyed the Cottage House Inn as much as we did three years ago. There were 24 of us gathering here from Wisconsin and towns near Chicago. We always set the date and place to spend three days to bike the trails. We choose a place from how many bike trails the area has to enjoy. We voted at our last dinner together to come back to the Cottage Inn. We all agreed you can’t get any better than this - such kind hosts and friendly town, plus great food and theatre.Mr. & Mrs. S., Mt. Prospect, IL


Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center

Located just outside of Lanesboro, Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center has been providing hands-on learning in nature to children, adults, and families, on its beautiful campus.  Their programs include archery, high ropes course, summer camps, family camps, rock climbing and more.  They also have excellent public hiking trails that get you up close to the Root River and provide gorgeous views.

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Head about 26 miles southwest of Lanesboro to experience Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park.  Go underground on a Mystery Cave tour to learn about the region’s karst geology or take a tour of the historic settlement of Forestville.  This state park is also a wonderful place to hike, go birding, and just enjoy nature!

Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail

The Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail is an 18-mile paved multi-use trail that connects the towns of Preston and Harmony with the Root River State Trail.  The trail was constructed on an old railroad bed, except for the section from Preston to Harmony.  This section is a more difficult climb up out of the valley to Harmony.  The trail is used for biking, walking, in-line skating, and is groomed for cross-country skiing.  Bike rental in Lanesboro is found at the Little River General Store.

International Owl Center

Houston, MN, is home to the International Owl Center, where education and programming revolve around owls and nature.  Every year they host the International Festival of Owls, which is an interactive all-weekend event.  Be sure to check out their website and calendar for available programming and events.

Isinours State Forest

If you are looking for a great place to hike in hardwood and evergreen forests, take the short drive (or ride your bike) as this forest is located along the Root River State Trail.  The hiking trails begin from a parking area at the base of the bluff and take you up to see gorgeous views of the valleys and driftless landscape.

Niagara Cave

Venture over to Harmony to tour one of the nation’s best caves, Niagara Cave, complete with a gorgeous waterfall, wedding chapel, fossils, and so much more.  Before or after the one-hour cave tour, you can partake in mini-golf, gemstone panning, or picnic at their shelter and playground. 

Root River State Trail

The Root River State Trail is a 42-mile paved trail used for walking, biking, in-line skating and cross-country skiing that goes from Fountain, MN, all the way to Houston, MN, passing through the towns on Lanesboro, Whalan, Peterson, and Rushford.  It was constructed on an old railroad bed and passes through beautiful landscapes of bluffs, creeks, the Root River, hills and farmland with plenty of opportunity to spot wildlife such as wild turkey, whitetail deer, hawks, bald eagles, and even rattlesnakes.  Bike rental in Lanesboro is found at the Little River General Store.

Root River State Water Trail

The Root River is a gentle river that is a tributary to the mighty Mississippi. It is fed by underground springs, creeks and run off, and it has no major rapids.  Many people enjoy the river in the summer as a place to cool off while canoeing, kayaking or tubing.  Anglers can find brown trout and smallmouth bass among other fish. In Lanesboro there are three outfitters (Root River Outfitters, Little River General Store, and River Rats Outfitters) that rent tubes, canoes, and/or kayaks.