Cannon River Wilderness Area


Area and County

    Rice County
    Southeast Minnesota

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850 acres


Cannon River Wilderness Area Map


N44 22.207, W93 13.881

Hiking Trails

5 miles


No hunting

Ecological Classification Province  

Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

Ecological Classification

Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal


Oak Savanna

Land Type Association(s)

Blooming Prairie Till Plain

Native Plant Communities1

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



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.








Visitor Photos

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Kirk Nelson

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

  Cannon River Wilderness Area    

Backwater/flood plain pool; an ideal spot for finding wood ducks.

  Cannon River Wilderness Area    

The turkey vultures were out in squadron force riding the winds.

  Cannon River Wilderness Area    

Bluffs along the Cannon River

  Cannon River Wilderness Area    

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

  Cannon River Wilderness Area    

View from the bridge looking north

  Cannon River Wilderness Area    

Looking south from the bridge

  Cannon River Wilderness Area    Photos

Park Entrance

  Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area


  Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area

Cannon River

  Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area


  Cannon River Wilderness Area    

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

  Cannon River Wilderness Area   Cannon River Wilderness Area

Sugar Maple Forest (Big Woods)

  Cannon River Wilderness Area    

Other Prairie

  Cannon River Wilderness Area    



  Cannon River Wilderness Area in Winter
Griff Wigley

Uploaded on Feb 11, 2008

A photo essay of cross country skiing in this Rice County, MN park near Northfield.




Visitor Videos

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Kirk Nelson

  Cannon River Wilderness Area_Turkey Vultures

Published on 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 and two species on the watch list are found here:



bristle-berry (Rubus stipulatus)

Minnesota dwarf trout lily (Erythronium propullans)



American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)

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

Canada frostweed (Crocanthemum canadense)

Gray’s sedge (Carex grayi)

green dragon (Arisaema dracontium)

Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus)

spiral ditchgrass (Ruppia cirrhosa)


Watch list

hairy-fruit sedge (Carex trichocarpa)

stiff cowbane (Oxypolis rigidior)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas 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)

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)

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)

common strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

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)

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)

stinging nettle (Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis)

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)

white oak (Quercus alba)

white rattlesnake root (Nabalus albus)

white spruce (Picea glauca)

white trout lily (Erythronium albidum)

white-flowered leaf-cup (Polymnia canadensis)

wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata ssp. laphamii)

wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)

wild ginger (Asarum canadense)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

wild mint (Mentha arvensis)

wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

winter cress (Barbarea vulgaris)

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 (wild ginger)

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

Barbarea vulgaris (winter cress)

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 (common 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 leaf-cup)

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 (white clover)

Ulmus americana (American elm)

Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)

Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis (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)


common blue violet

common dandelion

common false Solomon’s seal

common strawberry

eastern false rue anemone

large-flowered bellwort

northern bedstraw

sharp-lobed hepatica

smooth sumac

Virginia waterleaf

white rattlesnake root

virgin’s bower

wild columbine

wild geranium

wild ginger

winter cress





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