The Cannon Valley Trail connects the cities of Cannon Falls, Welch and Red Wing on a former Chicago Great Western Railway line. Motorized vehicles and pets are not allowed on the trail, so hikers, bicyclers, in-line skaters and cross-country skiers enjoy a quiet, people-powered experience.
Paralleling the Cannon River, the trail offers stunning views of the valley. There is a significant descent of 115 feet from Cannon Falls to Red Wing, but—because this is a rail-trail—the slope is gradual. The dazzling mix of scenery includes bluffs, wetlands, farmland and a handful of large lakes. The trail was dedicated May 31, 1986, with the towns of Cannon Falls and Red Wing along with Goodhue County agreeing to jointly manage the trail.
The former Chicago Great Western corridor actually extends westward even farther to the city of Mankato. Between that city and Faribault, the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is open on the former rail line for recreational use. In the future, the planned Mill Towns Trail will fill the gap on the corridor between Faribault and Cannon Falls; when complete, trail users would be able to travel from Red Wing to Mankato on an uninterrupted series of rail-trails.
To help pay for maintenance of the Cannon Valley Trail, the Cannon Valley Trail Joint Powers Board requires trail users 18 and older to purchase a Wheel Pass when using the trail between April 1st and November 1st. Passes can be purchased at kiosks at major access points to the trail and at local businesses; pedestrians and wheelchair users are exempt from purchasing a Wheel Pass throughout the year.
In Red Wing, you can pick up the short but beautiful Red Wing Riverfront Trail, connecting two parks along the Mississippi, and you can also take the nearby Goodhue Pioneer State Trail.
Parking for the Cannon Valley Trail is available in Cannon Falls at the parking lot for the softball fields on Cannon River Drive. South of Welch, park at the trailhead on Mt. Hill Road. Parking can be found in Red Wing at Anderson Park on US 61 or at the trailhead on Old W. Main Street.