Cannon River Wilderness Area







Rice County



Cannon River Wilderness Area is an 850 acre park in Rice County. It stretches 4.4 miles along both sides of the Cannon River. Forested hills and ravines, riverbottom forest, steep bluffs, and sheer cliffs are found within its boundaries. There is a picnic area with toilet facilities, five miles of trails, four primitive campsites, and a wooden pedestrian bridge over the Cannon River. Until recently, a 20-acre section of this park was owned by The Nature Conservancy and managed as Cannon Wilderness Woods Preserve.












850 acres


Driving Directions

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  Area and County
    County   Rice County
    Region   Southeast Minnesota


West trailhead (South entrance)
3471 151st Street East
Faribault, MN 55021

N44 22.198, W93 13.880

East trailhead (Notth entrance)
13996 Cannon City Blvd
Northfield, MN 55057

N44 23.105, W93 11.464

Note: Entering the street address of a remote location into a navigation app will not always give accurate results. Such is the case here. Use the GPS coordinates above, not the street addresses.






No fee



Cannon River Wilderness Area Map



Trail running


Mountain biking

Horseback riding







Nature photography




Cross country skiing


Winter hiking






5 miles


5 miles


Hunting and Fishing



Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification
Ecological Province Ecological Province  

Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

Ecological Section Ecological Section  

Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal

Ecological Subsection Ecological Subsection  

Oak Savanna

Land Type Association    

Blooming Prairie Till Plain


Native Plant Communities*


Dry Barrens Oak Savanna (Southern): Oak Subtype

Elm - Ash - Basswood Terrace Forest

Oak - Shagbark Hickory Woodland

Red Oak - Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest

Sedge Meadow

Seepage Meadow/Carr: Tussock Sedge Subtype

Silver Maple - (Virginia Creeper) Floodplain Forest

Southern Dry-Mesic Oak (Maple) Woodland

Southern Terrace Forest

Southern Wet-Mesic Hardwood Forest

Sugar Maple Forest (Big Woods)

Willow - Dogwood Shrub Swamp

* Source: The Minnesota Biological Survey, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological Resources    

Natural Features






What’s in a Name

Rice County has referred to this site as “Cannon River Wilderness Area,” “Cannon River Wilderness Park,” and “Cannon Wilderness Park.” The sign at the parking lot reads simply “Wilderness Park.”

Visitor Photos

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Kirk Nelson

Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area

Sign at the parking area for the Cannon River Wilderness Area; the road leading in is pretty much minimum maintenance.

  Backwater/flood plain pool; an ideal spot for finding wood ducks.
Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area



Bluffs along the Cannon River  



Some newly-exposed sandstone along the Cannon River and the rise above it

Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area

View from the bridge looking north

  Looking south from the bridge
Cannon River Wilderness Area    

The turkey vultures were out in squadron force riding the winds. Photos
Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area

Park entrance

Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area

Wide trail





    Narrow trail
Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area

Cannon River

Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area


  Sugar Maple Forest (Big Woods)
Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area

Red Oak - Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest



    Red Oak - Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest
Cannon River Wilderness Area    

Other prairie




2023 October 15 Cannon River Wilderness Park
Scott Luehring

2023 October 15 Cannon River Wilderness Park

Second try of fall colors and I like the cannon river with the stones, rocks and colors.

Always a few eagle flying around.



Visitor Videos

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Kirk Nelson

Cannon River Wilderness Area_Turkey Vultures
April 29, 2014


Turkey vultures soaring on the winds above the Cannon River Wilderness Area near Faribault, MN.

Other Videos

Cannon River Wilderness Area


Published on Feb 8, 2013

An overnighter in the Cannon River Wilderness Area in Faribault, MN. Sep. 15, 2012. Water was very low so we went wading.

Cannon River Wilderness
Karl Roe


Uploaded on Feb 19, 2012

Cannon River Wilderness, Rice County, Minnesota. Summer 2011



Visitor Sightings

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Two bird species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here:

Special Concern

Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens)

Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla)

eBird Field Checklist (East Side)

eBird Field Checklist (West Side)

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus)

Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)


American Goldfinch

Blue Jay

Great Gray Owl


White-breasted Nuthatch

Insects and Arachnids

eastern boxelder bug (Boisea trivittata)

black cherry finger gall mite (Eriophyes cerasicrumena)

eastern calligrapher (Toxomerus geminatus)

goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis)

monarch (Danaus plexippus)

multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis)

northern crescent (Phyciodes cocyta)

winter crane fly (Trichocera sp.)


eastern calligrapher

northern crescent


One mammal species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:

Special Concern

eastern pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflavus)

American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

  whitetail deer


Thirteen plant species with conservation status in Minnesota are found here:


bristle-berry (Rubus stipulatus)

Minnesota dwarf trout lily (Erythronium propullans)


Davis' sedge (Carex davisii)

edible valerian (Valeriana edulis var. ciliata)

one-flowered broomrape (Orobanche uniflora)

soft fox sedge (Carex conjuncta)

sterile sedge (Carex sterilis)

Special Concern

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)

Canada frostweed (Crocanthemum canadense)

Gray’s sedge (Carex grayi)

green dragon (Arisaema dracontium)

Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus)

spiral ditchgrass (Ruppia cirrhosa)

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves Plant List

Plants frequently found in:

Dry Barrens Oak Savanna (Southern): Oak Subtype UPs14a2

Elm - Ash - Basswood Terrace Forest FFs59c

Oak - Shagbark Hickory Woodland FDs38a

Red Oak - Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest MHs38c

Sedge Meadow WMn82b

Seepage Meadow/Carr: Tussock Sedge Subtype WMs83a1

Silver Maple - (Virginia Creeper) Floodplain Forest FFs68a

Southern Dry-Mesic Oak (Maple) Woodland FDs37

Southern Terrace Forest FFs59

Southern Wet-Mesic Hardwood Forest MHs49

Sugar Maple Forest (Big Woods) MHs39c

Willow - Dogwood Shrub Swamp WMn82a



American basswood (Tilia americana var. americana)

American elm (Ulmus americana)

American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana)

American red raspberry (Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus)

American stinging nettle (Urtica gracilis ssp. gracilis)

black ash (Fraxinus nigra)

black cherry (Prunus serotina var. serotina)

black maple (Acer saccharum ssp. nigrum)

black walnut (Juglans nigra)

black-seeded plantain (Plantago rugelii var. rugelii)

bland sweet cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii)

bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

boxelder (Acer negundo var. negundo)

bristly greenbrier (Smilax tamnoides)

bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa)

butternut (Juglans cinerea)

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

Canadian wild ginger (Asarum canadense)

chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. virginiana)

cleavers (Galium aparine)

common blue violet (Viola sororia)

common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

common burdock (Arctium minus)

common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale)

common false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum var. racemosum)

common mullein (Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

early figwort (Scrophularia lanceolata)

early meadow-rue (Thalictrum dioicum)

eastern false rue anemone (Enemion biternatum)

eastern woodland sedge (Carex blanda)

field horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

fragrant bedstraw (Galium triflorum)

garden yellowrocket (Barbarea vulgaris)

golden alexanders (Zizia aurea)

green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

kidney-leaved buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus)

large-flowered bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)

meadow salsify (Tragopogon pratensis)

northern bedstraw (Galium boreale)

northern hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

northern lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina var. angustum)

northern maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum)

northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis)

northern shagbark hickory (Carya ovata)

northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis)

ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica)

pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)

red clover (Trifolium pratense)

red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa)

round-leaved dogwood (Cornus rugosa)

sharp-lobed hepatica (Anemone acutiloba)

silver maple (Acer saccharinum)

slippery elm (Ulmus rubra)

smooth Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum)

smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

spotted lady’s thumb (Persicaria maculosa)

sugar maple (Acer saccharum ssp. saccharum)

thyme-leaved speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia)

Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum var. virginianum)

virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana)

white campion (Silene latifolia ssp. alba)

white clover (Trifolium repens ssp. repens)

white oak (Quercus alba)

white rattlesnake root (Nabalus albus)

white spruce (Picea glauca)

white trout lily (Erythronium albidum)

white-flowered leafcup (Polymnia canadensis)

wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata ssp. laphamii)

wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

wild mint (Mentha arvensis)

wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)


Acer negundo var. negundo (boxelder)

Acer saccharinum (silver maple)

Acer saccharum ssp. nigrum (black maple)

Acer saccharum ssp. saccharum (sugar maple)

Adiantum pedatum (northern maidenhair)

Anemone acutiloba (sharp-lobed hepatica)

Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine)

Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)

Arctium minus (common burdock)

Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit)

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)

Athyrium filix-femina var. angustum (northern lady fern)

Barbarea vulgaris (garden yellowrocket)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carya ovata (northern shagbark hickory)

Celtis occidentalis (northern hackberry)

Clematis virginiana (virgin’s bower)

Cornus alternifolia (pagoda dogwood)

Cornus rugosa (round-leaved dogwood)

Enemion biternatum (eastern false rue anemone)

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Erythronium albidum (white trout lily)

Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry)

Fraxinus nigra (black ash)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Galium aparine (cleavers)

Galium boreale (northern bedstraw)

Galium triflorum (fragrant bedstraw)

Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)

Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy)

Hydrophyllum virginianum var. virginianum (Virginia waterleaf)

Juglans cinerea (butternut)

Juglans nigra (black walnut)

Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)

Maianthemum racemosum var. racemosum (common false Solomon’s seal)

Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica (ostrich fern)

Mentha arvensis (wild mint)

Nabalus albus (white rattlesnake root)

Osmorhiza claytonii (bland sweet cicely)

Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana (American hophornbeam)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Persicaria maculosa (spotted lady’s thumb)

Phlox divaricata ssp. laphamii (wild blue phlox)

Picea glauca (white spruce)

Plantago rugelii var. rugelii (black-seeded plantain)

Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum (smooth Solomon’s seal)

Polymnia canadensis (white-flowered leafcup)

Prunus serotina var. serotina (black cherry)

Prunus virginiana var. virginiana (chokecherry)

Quercus alba (white oak)

Quercus ellipsoidalis (northern pin oak)

Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa (bur oak)

Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaved buttercup)

Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus (American red raspberry)

Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa (red elderberry)

Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)

Scrophularia lanceolata (early figwort)

Silene latifolia ssp. alba (white campion)

Smilax tamnoides (bristly greenbrier)

Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale (common dandelion)

Thalictrum dioicum (early meadow-rue)

Thuja occidentalis (northern white cedar)

Tilia americana (American basswood)

Tragopogon pratensis (meadow salsify)

Trifolium pratense (red clover)

Trifolium repens ssp. repens (white clover)

Ulmus americana (American elm)

Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)

Urtica gracilis ssp. gracilis (American stinging nettle)

Uvularia grandiflora (large-flowered bellwort)

Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus (common mullein)

Veronica serpyllifolia (thyme-leaved speedwell)

Viola sororia (common blue violet)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)

Zizia aurea (golden alexanders)


American basswood

black cherry

bur oak (var. macrocarpa)

Canadian wild ginger


common blue violet

common dandelion

common false Solomon’s seal

eastern false rue anemone

garden yellowrocket

large-flowered bellwort

northern bedstraw

sharp-lobed hepatica

smooth sumac

Virginia waterleaf

white rattlesnake root

virgin’s bower

wild columbine

wild geranium

wild strawberry







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