Walker is a small city in north central Minnesota, located on Walker Bay along the shores of Leech Lake. Leech is the State’s third largest lake at almost 112,000 acres. The City is the hub of an outdoor recreational mecca featuring the Heartland and Paul Bunyan State Trails and the Shingobee Connection Trail (which form a 22-mile loop bike/hike opportunity), the Chippewa National Forest, and the NCNST.
Walker was incorporated in 1896 by Patrick McGarry. McGarry hoped to lure lumber magnate Thomas B. Walker, founder of the Red River Lumber Company, to build a pine sawmill in the town. Instead, Walker sited his sawmill in Akeley because of his wife’s objections to the town’s rough “frontier nature.” Walker next became a tourist destination and the site of Ah-Gwa-Ching, a State run residential facility for TB patients.
The North Country National Scenic Trail passes within 6 miles southwest and 7 miles southeast of Walker and hikers can reach Walker via the Paul Bunyan & Heartland State Trails and the Shingobee Connection Trail. Walker offers long distance hikers many opportunities to restock their supplies before they head back out on the trail. For the last 30+ years, Walker has hosted the Walker North Country Marathon – part of which is run on the NCT.
The City of Walker became the second designated NCTA “Trail Town” in Minnesota on July 7, 2014.