The Avenue of Pines Scenic Byway encompasses roughly 47 miles of roadway between Deer River and Northome in northern Minnesota. The route follows the entirety of Minnesota 46, and much of it passes through publicly-owned land, including the Chippewa National Forest. This scenic byway was first designated as a state byway back in 1989 with the help of the U.S. Forest Service.
This byway has a lot to offer as a gateway to lakes, recreation, and a large section of older-growth pine forest. Resorts in the byway corridor offer many activities along the lakes in addition to fishing, and these same resorts are looking to further expand what they offer to visitors collectively as part of the byway. The Lost 40 State Natural Area offers visitors a glimpse at the oldest pine forests in the state, with some pine trees roughly 400 years old. Many local residents call the Avenue of Pines home, with small towns dotting the corridor area. They too look to the byway as a recreational gateway for bicycling, snowmobiling, and other activities. (2015 Avenue of Pines Scenic Byway Planning Report, HRDC)
About Scenic Byways
The Minnesota Scenic Byways Commission was established by the 1992 Memorandum of Understanding between the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota Office of Tourism, now known as Explore Minnesota Tourism to oversee Minnesota’s Scenic Byway Program.
The Scenic Byway designation is recognized for its potential to positively impact the cities, towns located along the routes.
Many benefits increase to communities where Scenic Byways pass, including increased economic benefits through promotion of tourism, improved traveler and community services and broadened appreciation of Minnesota’s historic and natural resources. Support for managing and maintaining these resources and improved management of resources to accommodate visitors as well as more careful stewardship of the Byway corridors, appropriate signage incorporation of design features are all important in keeping with the attributes of a Scenic Byway.
On average, byways have been functioning for over 20 years, long enough to have established a significant presence in the communities they pass through. Minnesota’s 21 byways total over 2,800 miles throughout the state. The byways wind through a variety of topographies—from waterfalls and woods in northern Minnesota to prairies and plains in the southwestern part of the state to panoramic views in southeastern Minnesota. These byways offer a variety of opportunities to see the best that Minnesota has to offer—by bike, car or foot.
Grassroots Byway organizations have worked to enhance and preserve these qualities while helping residents and visitors learn about, and enjoy, the individual qualities of their byways.