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Ask the Chief: When hiking, alert someone to your plans

"Ask The Chief" allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

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Q: I summer in Red Wing, and one of my favorite activities is hiking, but I noticed none of the trails are marked with trail address markers. I winter in the south, and the trails in that community have 911 address-markers located on trail posts.

I always bring my cellphone with me in case I fall and need help, but I am concerned if I fall in Red Wing I wouldn't be able to tell the dispatcher accurately where I am hiking. If I needed to call 911, how do I tell them where I am located?

A: You are correct Red Wing does not have location or mile trail markers on their hiking trails. Until we get trail location markers, it is important to let family or friends know where you will be hiking and when you plan on returning home.

The Red Wing Parks Map does provide a map of trails in our parks and if the trail is named, usually the name is provided on the map, and at the start of the trail. For example, Barn Bluff has four named trails: North, Prairie, Midland and South Trails. If an emergency does occur dial 911 and tell the dispatcher the trail that you are on and the direction you are traveling.

Trail markers use U.S. National Grid coordinate system which provides precise longitudes and latitudes to 911 dispatchers. These markers are used in the arrowhead area of Minnesota and are becoming quite popular.

The following is a few trail safety tips from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:

• Stay on designated roads and trails, or in permitted areas.

• Hike with friends.

• Leave a copy of your itinerary with a responsible person.

• Allow for bad weather.

• Always carry a fully charged cell phone.

• Know the trail that you are on.

• Know the direction you are traveling.


1. City of Red Wing Park Map, located online at:

2. U.S. National Grid coordinate system, Arrowhead Region of Minnesota, located online at:

3. Minnesota DNR:

4. American Hiking: