If you're looking for a beautiful inline skating trail south of the Twin Cities, try the scenic Cannon Valley Trail. Stretching from Cannon Valley to Red Wing, it offers 20 miles of paved converted rail trail that's open year-round to inline skaters, bikers, runners, and in the winter, cross-country skiers. Here are some quick pros and cons.
- Great length - the 20-mile-long trail is a good distance trail for those looking for a long skate, and there are several rest areas with picnic tables and restrooms along the way.
- Great scenery - skating the trail is a wonderful way to soak up some of Minnesota's more rural scenery between towns, and you'll get glimpses of the Cannon River that runs next to the path.
- Great food - if you get hungry along the way just stop in at one of the local eateries in Cannon Falls, Welch or Red Wing.
- Gravel crossings - there are a few road crossings on the trail, and at least one or two are gravelly enough to make you stop and slowly pick your way across. Be prepared for interruptions.
- Trail fee - bring some cash for the $4 "wheel pass" if you're skating between April 1 and November 1. Proceeds go towards trail maintenance.
- Slight grade - the trail has a slight grade given its location along a river valley, so if you're skating from Cannon Valley towards Red Wing, you'll be going downhill. Which is great until you turn around and it's all uphill on the way back...
The Cannon Valley Trail attracts 100,000 users per year (with good reason!), so be sure to watch for other people and slow down and alert them as needed while passing.