Stage 643 ended at Stanton after turning left (and north) just before the junction where Highway 19 heads east and Highway 56 heads north. The rollout of stage 644 is therefore pivotal in deciding what route ATW will take on its way from Minnesota into Wisconsin. Indeed, with this being the final full stage in Minnesota, it also goes a long way to projecting the likely route to the Great Lakes. The stage is generally east/north east with a big climb at three quarter distance, and you won’t be surprised to learn that there’s water involved in that particular feature.
To answer the initial question, ATW turns right and east onto Highway 19 immediately after the rollout. The road crosses Prairie Creek after a mile then starts climbing as it bends left to pass Summit Golf Club on the right hand side of the road. After the golf club, there’s a steep descent down to Lake Byllesby Reservoir which is dammed west of Cannon Falls on the River Cannon. On reaching the water, the road bends right and crosses Highway 52 on its way into town. There’s then a left/right at North 1st Street before Highway 19 heads out of town past Cannon Falls Cemetery followed by Cannon Falls Campground a mile later.
Highway 8 heads off south east to White Rock at eight miles, followed by Highway 58 to the same place four miles later. By now the road is climbing, the ascent having begun at the Cannon River, and the summit isn’t until the junction with Highway 58. The road then snakes right, left, right as it descends down to Belle Creek at the Richard J Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest. The climb away from the Creek is severe, rising over two hundred feet to the summit at sixteen miles just east of Vasa where Highways 7 and 51 head south off Highway 19 in quick succession.
From the summit, which is also the highest elevation of the stage, the road descends quickly and steeply round a left hander to the Spring Brook Valley Wildlife Management Area where Highways 6 and 41 head east and south respectively. As the road flattens out at twenty miles, it sets up a curving right/left finish into the line just before the T junction intersection with route 61. Which way will ATW go? All will be revealed at the start of stage 645.
Distance: 22 miles / 35 kilometres
Ascent: 696 feet / 212 metres
RGT Magic Road: 4bVUvJxLDGpD
Max elevation: 1169 ft
Min elevation: 894 ft
Total climbing: 696 ft
Total descent: -757 ft
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