Cannon River State Water Trail

Cannon River

Bounded by rolling hills, high bluffs, farmland and woods in its upper reaches, this river enters a broad gorge below Cannon Falls. There are a variety of wildlife and sightseeing opportunities. The Cannon River is designated as a State Wild and Scenic River.

River locator map


River segments and maps

Get maps and more information for this river's two segments:

  1. Tetonka Lake to Dundas (includes the Straight River)
  2. Dundas to the Mississippi River


Bounded by rolling hills, bluffs, farmland and woods in its upper reaches, the Cannon enters a broad gorge below Cannon Falls, where it is flanked by bluffs up to 300 feet high. The Cannon River is underlaid with a variety of sedimentary rocks. The river valley created by cutting through these rocks produced rock outcrops of St. Peter Sandstone, the Prairie du Chein Group of dolomites and sandstone, and near the river's mouth, Jordan Sandstone and the St. Lawrence and Franconia formations.


By 1000 A.D., the Mississippian Culture - a tradition heavily dependent on agriculture - was established in southern Minnesota. The mouth of the Cannon River was a major center of this culture. Both Indians and traders frequently hid their canoes near the river's mouth, and so French fur traders called the stream La Riviere aux Canots, "the river of canoes." The Dakota called the river the Standing Rock River, after a spire of rock found along the river in Dakota County. 

In 1877 there were 15 flour mills along the stretch of river between Faribault and Northfield alone. At Dundas, travelers still can see the aging limestone walls of the Archbald Mill.

The river was designated a state water trail in 1967.

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