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Barn Bluff Field Trip

Geological Society of Minnesota 

Barn Bluff Field Trip

Saturday, May 30  

10 AM in Redwing, MN


Join us for a field trip to the bluff country surrounding Red Wing Minnesota. Julie Maxson, Assistant Professor of Geology and Randy Strobel, Associate Professor of Biology, both from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul will be guiding us. We will be observing late Cambrian and early Ordovician sedimentary rocks and their sedimentary structures, observe a dip-slip fault with 150 feet of displacement on Barn Bluff, discuss the glacial and post-glacial evolution of the Red Wing landscape, and enjoy a guided tour of the Goodhue County Historical Museum. The trip will conclude with a 2.2 mile, roundtrip hike (with 330 feet of vertical elevation gain) to the top of Barn Bluff where we will get breathtaking views of the Mississippi River Valley. We will also likely pause to marvel at rock climbers scaling vertical cliffs of Oneota dolomite. 


Come prepared for any type of weather.  Be prepared for stressful hiking up. Bring water, and a box lunch. Rock hammers and hand lenses might also be useful.

For single people $ 5.00 dollars for members, $10.00 dollars for non-member.  For family, $10.00 dollars for members, and $20.00 dollars for non-members. You can pay on the day of the field trip. There is no need to register for this trip. Simply show up at Caribou Coffee before 10 am or meet at 3rd and Bluff Street at 10 am.  Feel free to e-mail Randy Strobel at with any questions. Randy can be reached by cell phone throughout the trip at 651-285-7710.

The star labeled “A” below is the first stop of the trip. To print the map at another scale enter the following at

E 3rd St & Bluff St

Red WingMN 55066



 10 am  Optional coffee at Caribou Coffee on Main Street in Red Wing. 

 11 am   We will assemble at 3rd and Bluff Street where there is plenty of on-street parking. We will walk a short distance to the highway 63 bridge to observe the Red Wing Fault 

 12 pm  We will then drive to the top of Sorin Bluff for an excellent view of Barn Bluff. Other highlights include observing the contact between the Jordan Sandstone and Oneota dolomite and observing a GSM plaque from 1955 at the overlook. We will lunch on top of Sorin bluff. Bring a bag lunch. 

 1 pm   Coon Hill. Julie will be showing us sedimentary structures in an excellent outcrop of Jordan Sandstone that outcrops very close to this park now called the Billings –Tomfohr Conservation Area. We will attempt to determine paleocurrent direction from outcrop evidence. 

 2 pm Tour of Goodhue County Historical Museum. We will first get an excellent view of the southwest end of Barn Bluff and the Red Wing Fault from the overlook at the museum. The outlook also has another GSM marker from the 1950’s. The museum has a small exhibit room on the local geology, several exhibits on the archeology of the Cannon RiverValley, and quite a bit on the human history of the area. A guided tour will be available to our group, but you are welcome to explore on your own. There will be a $5 admission fee. Feel free to remain at the museum until they close at 5pm if you will not be doing the hike up Barn Bluff. 

 3:30  Carlson Kiln Trail. We will hike a very short trail to observe a lime kiln from 1882 at the base of Barn Bluff. It is on the National Historical Register. 

 4:00 Hike to the top of Barn Bluff. We will hike the south trail to the top of the bluff. Up top we will also walk the crest on the prairie trail and enjoy a restored natural prairie. Most of the group will likely return via the south trail, which is a very easy descent with stairs in the steep areas. For those interested in a very challenging route back, the north trail is an option. Note that this trail is steep and rocky, does not have stairs, and is definitely not recommended if you have any fear at all of heights! That being said, it is routinely hiked by Red Wing locals. 

 6:00 Optional dinner at the Bierstube restaurant in Red Wing.