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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Welch, MN

Today was a beautiful day in the Twin Cities (70s and clear) and I headed to Welch, MN for the first time.  I had heard that there were some good twisty roads near that town and the rumors were true.

From the Twin Cities, I headed down through Hastings, MN.  Here's a shot of the bridge you cross into Hastings on US-61S.

I took US-61 to MN-20 to Cannon Falls, MN.  Here is an abandoned gas station.

I stopped in Cannon Falls to take some pictures.  I don't know if these are the Cannon Falls but they are waterfalls in Cannon Falls, MN.

Near the falls was a little fenced in area with fish (trout I think), ducks, and a pair of swans.  One of the swans was sitting on a nest.

From Cannon Falls, I headed west on MN-19 to Sunset Trail.  Sunset Trail looked like an interesting road on the map.  What I didn't know until I got there was that it wasn't paved.  If this road was in Wisconsin, I would think it would be an official "Rustic Road".  It went on for a while and was hilly and curvy.  Some parts were a little challenging but it was nice, if a little too long.  That was partly my fault as I missed a turn and ended up on 137th Ave which took me back to MN-19.  Quite a few road signs were riddled with bullet holes.  I suppose the local residents get bored and shoot them for fun.

After rejoining MN-19, I continued west to Vasa, MN.  I was not originally planning to go this way but was really glad I did.  Vasa is a tiny town with a beautiful church up on a hill.

Between Vasa and Welch is where all the fun is.  It's about 6 miles and I counted about 30 curves through some really nice scenery.  I rode it north twice and south once.  It's a fun road.

I stopped to take some pictures near an old wooden footbridge.  I can't imagine it's intended for vehicles and I certainly didn't try it.  I did walk across it though.

This is the small town of Welch.

I had a beer at the Cannon River Inn.  They didn't seem to care if you walked outside with it and it was a nice day so I did.

Here are two shots of the river, each looking in opposite directions, as seen from the bridge as you approach Welch from the south.

Headed north out of town, spotted a huge line of bikes coming south.  I snapped a picture in front of the Welch Creamery building.

North of Welch, there's about another dozen or so curves before you rejoin US-61.  I took that to Red Wing and headed home.  I was going to take Welch Shortcut Road as a scenic way to rejoin US-61 but it was another gravel road and Sunset Trail was enough for the day.

To give you some idea of distance, Minneapolis to Hastings is about 30 miles, Hastings to Cannon Falls is about 17 miles, Cannon Falls to Vasa is 9 miles (add 5 miles and 15-20 minutes to take the Sunset Trail & 137th Ave), Vasa to Welch is 6 miles, Welch to Red Wing is 14 miles.  There is a more direct route from Hastings to Welch that is about 16 miles.

If you find yourself near Hastings or Red Wing, I highly recommend a side trip to Welch.

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