National Recreation Trails Database


Trail Description Continued

The 4.8 mile Nelson-Trevino Canoe Trail is the first (upstream most) in a series of four trails designed to take paddlers into the backwater areas of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The trail access is located on Hwy 25 between Nelson, WI and Wabasha, MN. This trail does contain flowing water but does not follow the main navigation channel. Paddlers who wish to paddle to the second trail, Finger Lakes Canoe Trail approximately 8 miles down-river, will need to use the main navigation channel and "lock through" Lock and Dam #4 (paddlers unfamiliar with the procedure for using a lock should download the booklet “Locking Through” available at the refuge website). Sandy beaches for camping are plentiful along this section of river. There is no fee for camping on the Refuge.

The Nelson Trevino Canoe Trail is located near the headwaters of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. This trail was developed as an Eagle Scout project in the summer of 2010 and has provided paddlers with incredible fishing, breathtaking views and bird watching opportunities. These aspects and many others were the driving forces behind this section of the Mississippi River's designation as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2010.

The trail has two loops, the longer loop will take paddlers under Hwy 25 and into the Nelson-Trevino Research Area.

The adventurous paddler is welcome to go off the trail and explore the Nelson Trevino Natural Research Area. The 3,700 acre Research Area is a spectacular maze of channels and old growth floodplain forest. The area is designated as a Wisconsin State Natural Area and Scientific Area, a U.S. Forest Service Federal Research Area, a National Park Service National Natural Landmark and is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. A GPS unit and map are recommended for paddlers venturing off the trail in the Nelson-Trevino Research Area.

The Nelson-Trevino Canoe Trail is one of four canoe trails located on the Winona District of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Spend a few days exploring the river and its unique communities! Paddlers can pull up to the docks in front of the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN to view eagles up close and personal. Paddlers continuing down-river to the Finger Lakes Canoe Trail can also enjoy off-river camping, restaurants and shopping in Alma, WI (River Mile 753). All canoe trails are free and open 24/7 during ice-out conditions. Fall is spectacular for colors but paddlers should dress brightly as all the trails travel through areas open to hunting.

Services are available near the trailhead in both Wabasha, MN and Nelson, WI.

Additional information and maps can be found at the Refuge website


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This website provides access to the National Recreation Trail (NRT) database, a collection of information on the various trails which have been designated as NRT's. These trails are located throughout the United States and U.S. territories. The amount of information may vary from trail to trail. If you need more information than is available on this site, please use the contact(s) listed for that trail. (If no contacts, are listed, you may request help from American Trails at

The on-line database has details on the currently designated National Recreation Trails. The NRT Program online is hosted by American Trails: