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BEST BIKE TRAIL Minneapolis 2004 - Cannon Valley trail

Cannon Valley trail

Cannon Valley trail

825 Cannon River Ave.

Cannon Falls, MN 55009

507-263-0508

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This seems as good a time as any to congratulate Mr. Mike Sandberg from outlying Guthrie, Minnesota, who almost single-handedly has jeopardized the existence of some 1,300 miles of Minnesota bike trails. His lawsuit, filed with two other plaintiffs, led to an appeals court ruling that revoked the old railroad easements providing public access to cyclists. The nearly 100 planned miles of the Paul Bunyan trail, stretching from Brainerd to Bemidji, are the first under threat. It remains to be seen whether Sandberg's campaign will threaten the national rails-to-trails movement as a whole. For now, though, the most scenic and nearby getaway remains the 20-mile Cannon Valley trail, which runs alongside the Cannon River about an hour south-by-southeast of St. Paul. The wheel fee--$3 for a day pass; $12 for the season--may rile your inner Mike Sandberg. But then all the funds go toward maintenance of this quiet, flat path, which seems in a more Carl Sandburg kind of spirit. A pit stop at the tiny town of Welsh, about 10 miles along, provides rest rooms and a water spigot. Round-trippers can roll into the Target parking lot near the butt end of the trail in Red Wing and pick up some proper, neon-colored sports drink for the return ride. On a quiet day or a late afternoon you can ride two abreast on this very smooth asphalt; at other times, swift pelotons of uniformed cyclists will materialize out of the trees and whip past you in about the amount of time it takes you to say, Gee, isn't that ocher-colored oak prairie a thing of splendor?

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