There are a lot of options in and around Winona  to keep the active set busy—what follows just scratches the surface. If you’ll be spending any amount of time here, get copies of the excellent maps and brochures published by the CVB for detailed biking, hiking, paddling, cross-country skiing, and bird-watching advice.
The most challenging, but also the most remote and rewarding, off-road biking is the six-mile Plowline Trail west of Winona in the Bronk Unit of the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest (651/345-3401). To reach the trailhead go northwest of town on U.S. Highway 61 to County Highway 23 and follow it south for three miles.
For a leisurely family ride, follow the 5.5-mile path that circles Lake Winona. Road riders will find the country roads through the narrow valleys surrounding Winona to be peaceful, beautiful, and quite challenging territory.
The most popular cross-country skiing right in the city is on the nine miles of groomed trail through the forested hills behind St. Mary’s University (400 Terrace Heights, 507/457-1600, www.smumn.edu ).
St. Mary’s is also home to the popular 18-hole disc golf course The Woods (www.smumn.edu/thewoods ), which visitors are welcome to use free of charge.
Adventure Cycle and Ski (178 Center St., 507/452-4228, 9:30 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun.) rents bikes and cross-country skis. Winona , home of We-no-nah Canoes, one of the world’s leading canoe and kayak manufacturers, is a great spot to begin an exploration of the maze of Mississippi River backwater channels. There are canoe rentals at Prairie Island Park.
The Winona District office of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (51 4th St. E., 507/452-4232 or 888/291-5719, 7 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri.) has maps and information.