Riding the Cannon

Belle Creek Bridge. There is water down there, just not much.

Bend in the Cannon, west of the Turtle Preserve. The snags in the river are generally not this exposed.

Turk’s Cap Lily. Notice how the petals curl up and over the stem. This flower makes day lilies look cheap- which they are.

Saturday morning Dennis and I took the bikes to Red Wing. We didn’t start as early as usual, getting to Red wing after 8 a.m. We rode the Cannon Valley Trail from Red Wing to Welch. Round trip that’s about 20 miles. Nothing too strenuous, just a nice morning ride, through beautiful countryside.

I absolutely love riding the Cannon trail, provided we get there before the crowds. It is a very popular trail, well maintained, scenic, and close to the metropolitan area. Sadly this means that by noon the trail is teeming with bikers, skaters, walkers, and runners. The parking lots at the trail heads are jammed with SUV’s and vans. If you must ride on the weekend and you hate to be crowded, go early in the morning. The best time is just at sunrise.
We got off the trail by eleven, which was pretty late for us. I slowed us down, hopping off my bike to take pictures along the way. Some new highlights (last year we didn’t get on the trail) include more rest areas, more signage directing you to archeological sites, wetland overlooks, the Anderson Center sculpture gardens, and improvements to the Welch trail head park. Sighted for the first time on the trail- turk’s cap lilies, butterfly weed in bloom, and a pair of adolescent bald eagles near the turtle preserve. The turk’s caps are so much better than the “wild” day lilies (aka ditch lilies), and the butterfly weed is liking the drier conditions trail side. Usually there is an eagle nest right along the trail by the turtle preserve, but seeing the teenagers is pretty rare. Maybe this year the nest has been moved. It was always congested on the trail around the eagle nest- gawkers waiting for a sight of parents or hatchlings.
The river and creeks that feed it are extremely low. Yet, I saw more flowering plants along the trail than I have seen before. The natives seem to be coming back and they seem to be doing just a little better than the “weeds.” Maybe the dry weather plays a part in that, I don’t know. It is just great to see the regeneration of some beautiful native plants.
Now if people would just slow down enough to see them.