Cannon River State Water Trail

Snapshot virtual tour

Welcome to the Cannon River State Water Trail virtual tour! Explore scenic river miles that wind past sandstone cliffs, wooded bluffs, fields, and towns. We hope the tour prompts you to visit the State Water Trail in person sometime soon.

Cannon River State Water Trail main page

Photo of Centennial Park which offers parking, picnic facilities, and a great place to access the river.


Centennial Park Landing

Located nine miles west of I-35 and along State Highway 60, the Cannon River flows through the quiet village of Morristown. Just a few blocks downstream from the Morristown Dam, Centennial Park offers parking, picnic facilities, and a great place to access the river. This section of the river is more narrow and shallow than sections downstream of Faribault and can be tough paddling in the low flow conditions of late summer. The river winds its way through the Cannon River Aquatic Management Area (AMA) and Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on its way to Cannon Lake, about five miles of river paddling and two miles of lake paddling to Shager County Park.

Captioned video: Centennial Park Landing (Morristown) to Two Rivers Access
(1 minute 40 seconds)

Photo of the landing atTwo Rivers Park which is located at the confluence of the Straight and Cannon Rivers.


Two Rivers Park, City of Faribault

Two Rivers Park gets its name from its location at the confluence of the Straight and Cannon Rivers. In addition to the landing, Two Rivers Park also has a picnic shelter and shore fishing platform. This section of river, from Faribault to Dundas, is about 13 miles in length. It flows past the Cannon River Trout Lily SNA and the Cannon River Wilderness County Park before bringing the paddler to Dundas Memorial Park. The Cannon River Wilderness Park provides a public landing as well as picnicking, hiking, and primitive camping opportunities.

Captioned video: Two Rivers Access to Dundas
(1 minute 22 seconds)

Photo of a pedestrian bridge over the Cannon River in Dundas which connects Memorial Park on the east side of the river to Mill Park on the west.


Pedestrian Bridge, City of Dundas

This pedestrian bridge over the Cannon River in Dundas connects Memorial Park on the east side of the river to Mill Park on the west. Looking downstream from the bridge you can view the remains of the Archibald Mill, which was one of the leading flour mills in the country in the late 1800s. The two parks contain a variety of facilities: picnic shelters, toilets, playgrounds, and a trail head for the Mill Towns State Trail. This three mile section of river, starting in Dundas and ending at the dam in Northfield, is an easy paddle with parkland on either side for nearly the entire reach.

Captioned video: Dundas to Ames Mill Dam (Northfield)
(1 minute 27 seconds)

Photo of the Historic Ames Mill Dam from a river view.


Ames Mill (Malt-O-Meal) Dam/Riverwalk, Northfield

Upstream of the Water Street Bridge you'll see the Historic Ames Mill Dam. Downstream, you can see historic buildings along the city’s Riverwalk. Public parks on both sides of the river upstream of the dam allow paddlers to take out safely. While there is no designated portage around the dam, those who desire to portage may find a way to the downstream. Look river left for a flat platform built into the Riverwalk that allows access to the river (about 250 yards downstream from the dam near 2nd Street). Paddling downstream of Northfield takes you through the Carleton College Arboretum, with an opportunity to exit the river at the historic Waterford Bridge approximately three miles later.

Captioned video: (Northfield) to Lake Byllesby
(1 minute 20 seconds)

Photo of the Cannon River near Lake Byllesby.


Lake Byllesby Dam

This 60 foot high dam was built in 1910 on the Cannon River at the Dakota/Goodhue County border. It created a three and a half mile long, 1,432 acre reservoir. Paddlers may find a primitive, very steep, and difficult portage on the river right (Goodhue County). On river left (Dakota County), paddlers will find a longer, still difficult, but less steep portage. Both Dakota and Goodhue Counties have parks on the lake with public water access, trails, picnicking, drinking water, and toilets. Dakota County’s Lake Byllesby Regional Park also contains a campground. The river downstream of the dam flows through a steep gorge with limestone bluffs on either side of the river. Cannon Falls is located two miles from the dam and has two public landings located in city parks.

Captioned video: Lake Byllesby
(1 minute 34 seconds)

Captioned video: Lakes Byllesby Dam to Miesville Ravine County Park
(1 minute 23 seconds)

Photo of the mouth of Trout Creek in Miesville Ravine County Park.


Miesville Ravine County Park

This point is at the mouth of Trout Creek in Miesville Ravine County Park, approximately seven miles downstream from Cannon Falls. This Dakota County Park has a carry-in access, picnic and toilet facilities, as well as trails. This seven mile trip is very popular as it takes paddlers through a very scenic, easy to paddle portion of the Cannon River. Several outfitters provide service on this portion of the river.

Captioned video: Miesville Ravine County Park to Welch
(1 minute 24 seconds)

Photo of the the broad, bluff-lined river valley about six miles near the Highway 61.



While there is no formal public water access at Welch, some people use the outfitter services provided in town. Paddlers may also drop off their canoe near the County Road 7 Bridge and shuttle a vehicle to the next downstream access. This is a beautiful stretch of water, taking a paddler through a broad, bluff-lined valley about six miles to the Highway 61 Bridge. At several points the river comes close to the Cannon Valley Trail where you may glimpse an occasional biker peddling their way between Cannon Falls and Red Wing.

Captioned video: conservation efforts along the Cannon River
(1 minute 23 seconds)

Photo of the portion of the river where the river begins to braid as it flows through the delta formed by sediments the river deposited over many years.


Highway 61 Bridge near Red Wing

This portion of the river is generally easy to paddle, however, higher flow conditions can make it more challenging when the river begins to braid as it flows through the delta formed by sediments the river deposited over many years. This also results in more woody debris collecting along the channel, creating an obstacle course of tree limbs and sandbars in a number of short stretches. The Highway 61 Landing is most often used as a take-out point for paddlers who are finishing trips from Welch or Miesville Ravine Park. There are, however, those who choose to paddle the last five miles of the Cannon River in addition to a mile or two of the Mississippi River. These paddlers take out at one of the private marinas on the Wisconsin side of the river or at the public water access near the Highway 63 Bridge.

Captioned video: Highway 61 Landing to Mississippi confluence
(1 minute 04 seconds)

Legacy Amendment logo

This program is made possible by funds from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.