“Perhaps more important for towns like Crosby, Minnesota, embracing adventure recreation has paid off in areas besides the bottom line. While the 25 miles of trails that opened in 2011 just outside this former mining center in the state’s Iron Range draw nearly 30,000 cyclists and add close to $2 million to the local economy each year, one of the biggest benefits was the change in lifestyle. On the mountain bikers’ heels came a slew of new bars, cafes, and a wood-fired pizza joint.”

Above is an excerpt from a story in the August edition of Outside magazine about “best towns” for the transformative effect of creating recreational possibilities. It isn't the first time the Cuyuna trails have caught the eye of Outside editors, and likely not the last.

The story went on to quote Aaron Hautala, former president of Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, which maintains the popular trail system. Annual visits to Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area have climbed from 80,000 before the trails opened in 2011 to 185,000 in 2016. 

Said Hautala in an e-mail to the Star Tribune about the story: “From the beginning, the thought of the Cuyuna region being recognized as one of America’s best towns to live was a dream, an inspiration, and benchmark we aimed for, even fully knowing we might never reach the goal. Having now been recognized in the story, it provides that additional fuel to continue our efforts forward in building out the 21st-century vision for the 21st-century Cuyuna.”