Trail: Cannon Valley Trail

Description: This is the smoothest trail in the state!  Repaved in 1999 after flooding, this is ice smooth and extremely scenic.  For a best-in-the-state skating experience, skate the trail during the fall leaf-turning extravaganza.

Getting There: The trail runs from Cannon Falls to Red Wing with access on either end or at Welch Village in the middle.  Cannon Falls is directly south of the Twin Cities on Highway 52.  To reach Red Wing or Welch, turn east off Highway 52 onto Highway 61 (signed for Red Wing).

Length: The trail is just under 20 miles long.  Welch is about halfway.

Difficulty: Easy.  The trail parallels the river and so has a slight grade the entire way downhill from Cannon Falls to Red Wing.  Plan accordingly because this does affect your energy!

Popularity/number of other users: Weekends can get crowded and proper trail etiquette is crucial.  Weekdays the trail is not used much except close to the end cities.

Surface conditions: Outstanding!  This is the smoothest trail in the state and shouldn’t be missed.

Scenery: Excellent. Views of the river, typical Midwestern fields, and possible wildlife sighting make this a great skate.  The best views, however, are during fall foliage.

Nearby Restaurants and Lodging: Cannon Falls has a pizzeria and a small bar that serves good lunches.  Even better it has a grocery store right at the trail head that is perfect for buying picnic lunch makings.  Welch has the Trout Scream Cafe, which is about half a mile north of the trail in the town.  Red Wing has plenty of fast food places, other restaurants, and inexpensive hotels.  For lodging, Welch has a campground (Hidden Valley) right on the trail just west of the trailhead.  The best lodging in the area is the St. James Hotel.  Not cheap, you can get a great mid-week rate.

Water:  Water fountains and bathroom facilities in Cannon Falls, Welch, and Red Wing.

Other nearby trails: No other trails are right in the area.

Comments: This makes a good day skate or overnighter.  Either way, you need to skate this at least once.  A three dollar “wheel pass” is required for skaters and can be purchased at any of the three trail rest stops.

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