August 22, 2014    //    James Feist
If you’ve ever explored the Central Lakes Trail around Alexandria, it’s no secret how many opportunities for adventure it holds. Spanning 55 miles from Fergus Falls, through Alexandria and to Osakis, there is an overwhelming sense of freedom to know you could go on for hundreds of miles.
Luckily for the Alexandria area, there are plenty of lakes, wildlife and beauty within a stone’s throw from the city. I had another wonderful mid-August ride today with my premier destination only 4 miles from the main trailhead at Big Ole Park!
Heading west on the trail from Big Ole, you will first pass a restaurant called The Depot Express. This historic building, built in 1907, used to be the old Burlington Northern train depot. Since the trail used to be the old Burlington rail line, you can almost imagine the old trains pulling up to the building. The section that used to be the loading area is now a beautiful outdoor dining patio with great view of Lake Agnes.
Continuing west on the trail you will be brought through nice wooded areas that house a large variety of trees, birds and wildlife. The trail also takes you by Lake Winona, Lake Cowdry, Lake Stony, North Union Lake and Lake Brophy. I found some beautiful wildflowers along the way as well.
I reach my turn-around point at a nice, quiet park right next to Lake Brophy. This little gem has a dock, fire ring and some nice areas to walk around and enjoy the scenery.
On my way back to town, I decided I needed to stop and get some ice cream at the Sugar Shack downtown. Just a few blocks from the Central Lakes trail, it is a great place to grab a snack after a ride. They offer a huge selection of candy, cookies and ice cream. I found the double scoop chocolate cone to suit me well after the 8 mile ride, but also couldn’t resist the Minnesota-shaped cookies! Happy pedaling!