Cannon Valley Trail

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Picture of fall colors along the Cannon Valley Trail.

The Cannon Valley Trail is a paved, multiple-use trail that follows the Cannon River in southeast Minnesota.

The trail follows an abandoned Chicago Great Western Railway corridor for 20 miles (32 km) between Cannon Falls, Minnesota and Red Wing, Minnesota.[1] In the spring, summer, and fall months, the trail is open to hiking, biking, and inline skating. A "Wheel Pass" for bicyclists, inline skaters, and users of other wheeled recreational devices is required, at a cost of $4. In the winter months, the trail is groomed for cross-country skiing.[2]

Local private citizens purchased the railroad right-of-way for a recreational trail in 1983 following the C&NWs (the successor to the CGW) decision to abandon the line. The trail is managed by a joint powers board consisting of representatives from Cannon Falls, Red Wing, and Goodhue County, Minnesota.[3]

Trailhead at Welch

Points of interest on the trail include the Cannon River, wildlife management areas, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) mountain-bike trail, Welch Village ski area, and the Red Wing archaeological preserve. Camping is available at the Hidden Valley campground near Welch.

The Cannon Valley Trail is quite scenic, with farmland along its western half and descending into river bottomland along its eastern half. The river valley has substantial bluffs, including the site of Welch Village Ski Area about midway along the trail. The keen observer will also notice milepost markers along the south side of the trail placed there over the years when the CGW operated the rail line in the corridor. The mileposts indicate the distance from Mankato - the original western terminus of the CGW along the route.

Extant[edit]

Maintenance building at Welch

The section of the Chicago Great Western from Faribault to Mankato is now the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail. The section of the Chicago Great Western between Faribault and Cannon Falls is being developed by the Mill Towns Trail Association which would result in the former route of the entire Chicago Great Western (originally the Central Railway Company of Minnesota and later the Wisconsin, Minnesota & Pacific) from Mankato to Red Wing being converted to trail use.

In Red Wing, the trail connects to the Goodhue Pioneer State Trail.[4]

References[edit]