When complete, the Mill Towns State Trail will connect the cities of Faribault, Dundas, Northfield, Waterford, Randolph, and Cannon Falls, for a distance of approximately 25 miles. The trail will be an important link in the developing southeast Minnesota trail system, connecting the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail in Faribault with the western end of the Cannon Valley Trail in Cannon Falls.
- Historic sites
At one time, flour and grist mills dotted the Cannon River Valley between Faribault and Cannon Falls, harnessing the river’s power to process wheat into fine flours. The communities that emerged as mill towns provided the namesake for the state trail, and the route will follow the valley along its path.
Adjacent to the Dundas trailhead lies the former Archibald Mill. Members of the Archibald family perfected the milling of Minnesota’s hard spring wheat and produced industry leading flours along with 30 other milling operations in the valley active in the late 19th century. These ruins in Dundas are all that remains of a facility that once employed 100 men and produced 500 barrels of flour per day. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
At the far eastern end of Lake Byllesby Reservoir in Dakota County sits the Lake Byllesby Dam. Built in 1910, this 60-foot high hydroelectric dam generates enough electricity to power 2,400 homes for a year. Watch Cannon River videos about Lake Byllesby and Lake Byllesby Dam.
- Trail uses
During spring through fall, the trail is primarily for pedestrian use (hiking, walking, running, jogging) biking and in-line skating. Winter trail uses include snowmobiling.
Accessible Outdoors (electric wheelchairs allowed)
- Trail events
Events CalendarScroll table right to see more »
There are currently no event listings.
- Trail segments
Faribault Segment - 1 mile. This trail segment travels from 17th Street NW to Park Avenue, and connects to a network of local trails and city parks.
Dundas to Northfield Segment - 3 miles. This trail segment connects with the city of Northfield trails near Babcock and Riverside Park on the north end, and follows the Cannon River to the city of Dundas trailhead and local trails on the south end.
Lake Byllesby Regional Park to Cannon Falls Segment - 2 miles. This trail segment runs from 9th Street in Cannon Falls to the Lake Byllesby Dam. To the east, it connects with Hannah’s Bend Park and the city of Cannon Falls trails, which in turn connect to the nearly 20 mile Cannon Valley Trail. To the west, it connects with two county parks, Dakota County’s Lake Byllesby Regional Park and Goodhue County’s Lake Byllesby Park.
Do not leave valuables in your vehicle!
Parking will be available at the following trail accesses:
- Faribault: at the White Sands Park trailhead on the west side of MN Hwy. 21, 1/8 mile north of 7th St. NW.
- Dundas: at Mill Park and the Mill Towns State Trail trailhead on Railway Street.
- Northfield: at Sechler and Riverside Parks.
- Lake Byllesby: at either of the county parks along the east side of Lake Byllesby.
- Cannon Falls: at trailhead lot adjacent to the Cannon Valley Fairgrounds, or at Hannah’s Bend Park.
Seasonal restroom facilities will be provided along the trail at these points:
- White Sands Park trailhead in Faribault (seasonally available)
- Mill Park in Dundas (seasonal portable restroom)
- Sechler and Riverside Parks in Northfield (seasonally available)
- Lake Byllesby Park on south side of Lake Byllesby, at Lake Byllesby Regional Park on the north side of Lake Byllesby and at Hannah’s Bend Park in Cannon Falls (seasonally available)
The trail is open in the winter but is not groomed for any winter use. Snowshoers and walkers or skiers who don't mind not having a groomed trail will enjoy the trail in winter.
A separate treadway for snowmobiles is groomed during the winter months between Cannon Falls and Lake Byllesby. There is also a short shared-use segment open for snowmobile use between Dundas and Northfield. Both of these segments connect to many miles of groomed snowmobile trails in the area through the Grant-in-Aid trail system.