In barely more time than it takes to drive from Minnetonka to St. Paul, you and your bike could be in Cannon Falls, at the start of one of the most beautiful bike rides in the state. The exquisitely scenic, 20-mile-long Cannon Valley Trail follows an old railway corridor from Cannon Falls to Red Wing, tracing a path along the Cannon River through a diverse landscape of farmland, wetlands, and bluffs. With only 115 feet of elevation change between the towns, it's an easy ride, much of it under a canopy of trees and often close enough to the river to hear the burble of rapids and the babble of kayakers. Picnic tables and benches along the way offer plenty of opportunities for rest and repast. Begin your ride at the trailhead in downtown Cannon Falls, just off Main Street (Highway 19). You'll need a $3 Wheel Pass, available from the pay station there or from several merchants in town, including the Econofoods across the street, where you can stock up on trail snacks. The bike path starts off through quaint residential neighborhoods in town, but soon escapes into sublime countryside along the riverbank. From there you can ride as far as you like before doubling back, or make a weekend of it by cycling to Red Wing and spending the night. The trail seems best suited for recreational bikers, but ultra-serious cyclists who don't mind a little summer bike traffic can combine the trail with a 70-mile loop around nearby Lake Pepin for a spectacular country ride.