Cannon Valley TrailThe Cannon Valley Trail, which stretches nearly 20 miles from Red Wing to Cannon Falls, is one of the assets that makes Red Wing a destination year-round.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
The Cannon Valley Trail, which stretches nearly 20 miles from Red Wing to Cannon Falls, is one of the assets that makes Red Wing a destination year-round.
The trail, which follows a former railroad bed, sees about 100,000 visitors each year. Unlike most recreation trails in Minnesota, the Cannon Valley Trail has a staff on duty every day during the biking season.
The trail runs parallel to the Cannon River, offering views of the river valley, wetland complexes and seasonal changes. It gradually descends 115 feet in elevation from Cannon Falls to Red Wing.
Anyone 18 and older must have a Wheel Pass between April 1 and Nov. 1 to use the trail for bicycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, hiking and walking. During the snow season, cross country skiers need the Great Minnesota Ski Pass. Hours are sunrise to 10 p.m. daily.
At least once a month on weekends from May to September, Friends of the Cannon Valley Trail present Voices of the Valley - nature programs and musical entertainment - at the Welch Station, midway between Red Wing and Cannon Falls. The Friends group assists the Joint Powers Board, which manages the trail.
Volunteers present education and interpretive programs to help visitors understand and explore the Cannon River Valley. Free treats and music are a bonus.
Rules are simple: Items not allowed include pets, motorized vehicles, horses, alcoholic beverages, and weapons. Fires can be in designated areas only, and visitors must avoid disturbing plant, flower, wildlife or other natural or cultural resources.
For more information, call (507) 263-0508 or go online to www.cannonvalleytrail.com. The site includes a map and a virtual tour.
Red Wing also has access to multi-use trail systems for those who enjoy off-road bicyclists, and it's a dream destination for hikers and rock climbers.
The trail system at Barn Bluff offers challenging as well as family-friendly venues and scenic vistas. Also, Memorial Park on Sorin's Bluff off East Seventh Street can be accessed by car.