Plenty of feet hit the Cannon Valley TrailWhether it was for biking, inline skating, skiing or walking, a total of 89,466 people made use of the Cannon Valley Trail in 2010.
Whether it was for biking, inline skating, skiing or walking, a total of 89,466 people made use of the Cannon Valley Trail in 2010. By that measure, the trail is likely to have seen upwards of 2 million people over its 25 years of existence, which was celebrated in June 2011.
The Cannon Valley Trail stretches 19.7 miles from Red Wing to Cannon Falls, occupying part of the route of a former Chicago Great Western railroad line. The railroad abandoned the line in 1982 and the rails were removed in 1983, which is when area citizens came to realize the potential for recreational use.
The Minnesota Parks Foundation, now known as the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota, used donations to buy the right of way and then brought Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Goodhue County together to create a Joint Powers Board that would manage the trail project.
Three years later - on May 31, 1986 - the trail was dedicated. Ever since, it has been used by everyone from outdoor enthusiasts to families out for walks.
"You get a wide variety, all the way from kids to the extreme biker," Cannon Valley Trail manager Scott Roepke said.
According to the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce, 75,854 people used the trail for bicycling in 2010, making it by far the most popular activity on the trail. Four thousand eight hundred and forty-two rollerbladed, more than 8,000 walked the trail and about 700 people went cross-country skiing on it in the winter.
While the two latter activities can be done for free, users must purchase a wheel pass to bike, rollerblade, skateboard or use any other wheeled devices on the trail from April through November — with wheelchairs being an exception.
The money from the $4 daily passes or $25 season passes contributes to the regular upkeep of the trail. Maintenance is a daily job and includes a lot of vegetation control, asphalt repair and care for 18 different bridges.
Keeping the trail in good condition is what has helped it last for 25 years and become host to all of its regular users.
Humans aren't the only ones to occupy the trail, however. Roepke said he commonly sees deer, turkeys and woodchucks roaming around it, tons of birds flying above it and fish swimming below it.
"On the Red Wing end, you're passing through a flood plain, which will give you different types of flowers and trees," Roepke explained. "On the Cannon Falls end, you're viewing more of the valley and that also offers different opportunities for wildlife and plants."