Just 35 miles south of Minnesota, the college town of Northfield is the setting for this 2.6-mile lollipop loop through “the Arb”—an 880-acre plot owned by Carleton College. Start at a signed trailhead just off of Highway 19 and head north past tennis courts to the banks of the Cannon River. The hard-packed and gravel trail winds along the Cannon River and through quiet lowland meadow before bearing east and climbing 50 feet to a ridge—admire the prairie and oak savanna restoration sites, and views of the surrounding countryside. Stands of bur oak near mile 0.8 are impressive, and during spring and summer watch for bursts of wildflower color. At mile 1.3 you’ll reach the route’s northern terminus and descend from the ridge toward the banks of the Cannon River before closing the loop.
This sampling of spur trails and hidden paths is popular for trail running in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter, but plan to come back and explore the areas other trails.
-Mapped by Steve Johnson