The Heartland State Trail, formerly a Burlington Northern Railroad, was one of the first rail-to-trail projects in the country. The paved segment between Park Rapids and Walker is 27 miles long. The trail is smoothly paved and level, perfect for biking and roller-blading or just taking a leisurely stroll. There is also a second grassy treadway for horseback riding and mountain biking.
Views of lakes, rivers and streams are numerous, and many are accessible from the trail. The Heartland State Trail passes through northern hardwood forests and stands of jack, red and white pine, as well as the spruce fir forest community. The occasional majestic white pine can be seen towering over the trail. Common mammals noticed along the trail include whitetail deer, raccoon, red fox, porcupine, beaver and muskrat. Many varieties of birds can be seen along the Heartland including the bald eagle, which has a large population in the Chippewa national Forest and surrounding Walker area.
Parking for this section of the trail is available in Park Rapids at Heartland County Park, Dorset, Nevis, Akeley, Walker and Erickson's Landing North of Walker. Tiny Dorset claims to be "restaurant capital of the world," Akeley features a giant Paul Bunyan, and Nevis boasts the "world's largest tiger muskie" statue. Walker, Nevis and Akeley each have a swimming beach near the trail. Rest areas are located in all of the towns along the trail.