A byway is a set of roads that tell the story of their area’s archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities in a compelling and extraordinary way. Byway routes are selected based on their characteristics and how well they represent their region.
This definition of "scenic" reaches beyond breathtaking vistas. This set of roads are gateways to adventures where no two experiences are the same.
The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway is a 54-mile driving route made up entirely of county roads, that take travelers through 14 jurisdictions; with hiking and walking trails, recreational parks and lakes, wildlife management areas, and historical artifacts. The route has a non-profit organization, the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association, that manages the projects, programs and events along the route.
Our Byway's history is based on the widening of the shoulders (for bicyclists) of the county roads which make up the route.
Crow Wing County's State Aid Highway (CSAH) 16 is the spine of the Byway. At the intersection with CSAH 66, the route travels both north around the Whitefish Chain and south along the north side of Pelican Lake. It passes through 14 local government jurisdictions: Jenkins, Ideal Township, Crosslake, Manhattan Beach, Mission Township, Pelican Township, Timothy Township, Pequot Lakes, Breezy Point, Pine River, Jenkins Township, Gail Lake Township, Wilson Township, and Barclay Township. It connects with the Paul Bunyan Trail in four locations considered 'gateways', at CSAH 16, at CSAH 11, and at CSAH 15 in Crow Wing County and at CSAH 1 in Cass County. Currently, more than 100 resources have been identified along the 54 miles, resources that are valued for their cultural, historic, recreational, natural, scenic, or archaeological value.
The Byway has been designated as both a state and national scenic byway. There are 22 scenic byways designated in Minnesota. A state board of commissioners, which is made up of representatives from each of these agencies, has set 22 as the limit for designated scenic byways in the state. A new designated byway can only happen if an existing route loses or relinquishes its designation, thereby allowing another route to seek the available designation.
There are now 121 national scenic byways, as well as 31 All-American Roads, and 21 multi-State Byways.