Located in Red Wing, an hour south of the Twin Cities, is a gorgeous 340-foot bluff called Barn Bluff. Formed as a result of glacial melt, Barn Bluff has been significant in the area for 1000’s of years! Prehistoric people built burial mounds on top of the bluff and historians think it was the location of a trading post. In the 1800’s the area was inhabited by the Dakota and Barn Bluff served as a lookout to spot approaching enemies. Since then, it’s strategic location and height made it a great lookout point as well as landmark for people traveling along the Mississippi.
I would rank the difficulty of the trail itself as easy to moderate. There are definitely more challenging parts as it has stairs and a gradual climb up to the top. After that, there are relatively flat trails along the top of the bluff to the various lookout points. Even with the climb, the view from the top makes it all worth it!
Start at the main access point and take the South trail up to the top of the bluff which is about .5 miles. Like I said above, some parts are easy and some are more difficult due to stairs and the incline. You can take the additional Prairie trail in both directions, each leading to a different scenic outlook. The whole Prairie trail is about .5 miles all the way across the bluff. I think it’s worth it to hike the whole trail as you get different views from each outlook.
For a map click here and for more information about the different trails, click here. Let me know what other information would be helpful to you in these hiking posts as I plan on writing more this summer!