Saturday, May 14, 2016

Great day hikes found in Red Wing, Minn.

Memorial Park overlook of Mississippi River and Wisconsin shoreline bluffs.
Photo courtesy City of Red Wing, Minn.
Mississippi River views, blufftop prairies, country creeks and more await day hikers in the Red Wing, Minn., area.

Nearly 20 day hiking trails can be found in the city, located about an hour’s drive southeast of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. They range from under a quarter mile in length to nearly 20 miles.

Based on location, the trails generally can be grouped into five areas: Barn Bluff; Cannon Valley; Coon Hill; Hay Creek; and Memorial Park.

Barn Bluff
The prominent bluff rises 30 stories above downtown Red Wing along the Mississippi River. It contains five trails:
Carlson Lime Kiln Trail – The 0.22-miles round trip hike heads to historic kiln ruins. Park in the lot along Fifth Street northeast of U.S. Hwy. 61.
Midland Trail – The 0.28-miles one-way trail links the South Trail to the North Trail on the bluff’s forested south side. Park along Fifth Street near the South Trail trailhead.
North Trail – The 1-mile one-way trail runs along the bluff’s east and north sides on its way to an overview of the Mississippi River and to the bluff’s summit. Park along Fifth Street near the South Trail trailhead.
Prairie Trail – The 0.55-mile one-way trail sits at Barn Bluff’s summit, heading across a blufftop prairie between two scenic overlooks. The shortest way to reach the trail is from the South Trail.
South Trail – The 0.54-miles one-way trail rambles alongside the bluff’s south side to near the bluff’s top, where it connects with the Prairie Trail. Park along Fifth Street near the South Trail trailhead.

Cannon Valley
At one time, railroads connected small towns across America, usually running right next to rivers as that was the flattest route. The Cannon River spills into the Mississippi River north of Red Wing. The railline since has been converted to a bicycle/hiking path:
Cannon Valley Trail – The paved trail runs 19.7 miles, most of the way alongside the Cannon River, on a former Chicago Great Western Railroad line, connecting Red Wing to Welch and Cannon Falls. Parking lots to access the trail in Red Wing are available at the Old West Main and Bench streets junction or at Lower A.P. Anderson Park.

Coon Hill
Several trails can be found on this wooded hill, which is mostly located in the wooded Billings-Tomfohr Conservation Area (Part of the hill is owned by the Red Wing school district.). Trails there include:
Coon Hill Loop – The trail loops about the top of Coon Hill for 0.4 miles with a couple of spur trails to scenic overlooks. The best way to reach it is via the Neal Street Trail for a 0.8-mile round trip hike.
East Loop – The 0.5-miles trail links the Sumac and the Twin Bluff trails; park at the trailhead off of Sumac Drive or at the middle school during non-school hours. The hike runs about 1.2-miles round trip if taken from the Sumac Trail and 1-mile round trip if from the Twin Bluff Trail.
Neal Street Trail – The 0.2-mile one-way trail heads almost to the top of Coon Hill where it links with the West Loop and the Coon Hill Loop. A parking lot is at the end of Neal Street.
Sumac Trail – The trail goes 0.35-miles one-way, heading uphill to the East Loop and ending at Coon Hill Loop. Park at the lot at the end of Sumac Drive.
Twin Bluff Trail – The steep 0.25-mile trail ascends the hill behind Twin Bluff Middle School and connects with the East Loop. Park at middle school during non-school hours.
West Loop – A 0.6-mile loop is on west side of Coon Hill, near its highest point. The best way to reach it is via Neal Street Trail for a 1-mile round trip.

Hay Creek
One usually doesn’t expect to find a pretty little creek running through a city, at least not one that feels like you’re ambling down a rural road. One trail follows the creek on the city’s south side:
The Goodhue-Pioneer State Trail – Formerly known as the Hay Creek Trail, the state trail runs from near the intersection of Pioneer and Hay Creek Valley roads for about 3-miles one way to the Hay Creek Unit of the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest. A number of other trials can be found in the state forest.

Memorial Park
Several interconnected trails run throughout the park that sits on Sorin’s Bluff east of downtown, offering great views of the Mississippi River and of the city:
Bush Street Trail – Take Skyline Drive to the parking lot at the disc golf course and walk the trail to Bush Street. It runs 0.2-miles one-way.
Cow Path Trail – The inclined nature trail at 0.75-miles round trip passes a historic pump. Take Skyline Drive to the parking area at Upper Quarry and then walk to Bluff Street.
Lower Quarry Trail – Park in lot at end of Skyline Drive in the Lower Quarry then walk it to Seventh Street East. The trail goes about 0.5-miles one-way.
Main Trail – This route consists of several stacked loops that over four-miles heads through three prairie areas and to Lower Quarry. Park at the golf clubhouse off of Golf Links Drive.
Wilkinson Street Trail – The 0.3-mile one-way trail starts at the end of Wilkinson Street north of Hwy. 61 and connects to the Main Trail at Prairie area 2. Park along Wilkinson Street.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.