Paddling Minnesota  by Greg Breining

Paddling Minnesota Guide Book

by Greg Breining (Falcon Guides)
Paddling Minnesota  by Greg Breining
Minnesota, the 'Land of 10,000 Lakes' is replete with wonderful paddling options for everyone—from families seeking serene waters for youngsters, to expert kayakers looking to test their skills on ripping rapids. This guide, an update of Greg Breining's Official State Guide, includes more than 100 trips and 23 brand-new paddles that represent the full range of paddling experiences Minnesota has to offer, from paddles down the Minnehaha Creek in the heart of the Twin Cities, to excursions through the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area in the remote northern reaches of the state. Minnesota is a paddler's playground, and this guide is the key to discovering the many wonders of its clear, blue waters.

© 2016 Greg Breining/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Paddling Minnesota" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 142.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 142.

Typical of North Shore streams, the Baptism is steep, twisting, and potentially lethal. The Baptism is as good an introduction as any to the North Shore streams. It’s easier than many (albeit, only slightly). It’s also accessible by road and foot trail, so you can walk out if you tire of portaging and being scared to death. Put in at the Eckbeck Campground. The river takes a sharp right bend and tumbles through a long stretch of bouldery Class III rapids known as Confinement Canyon.
Finland, MN - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 3.7
After a tumultuous descent at Big Falls, the Big Fork meanders placidly to its meeting with the Rainy River. It’s a good stretch for canoe camping or fishing. The major scenic attraction in this stretch is the series of falls and rapids in Big Falls, where the Big Fork, a sizable river at this point, plunges over a series of rocky ledges. The falls rate class IV in low water, but soon become much more difficult as the water rises and the drops fill with 6-foot-high backrollers and big souse holes. At exceptionally high water, the turbulence and mayhem is breathtaking.
Big Falls, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 52
The Big Fork provides the occasional wild ride as it flows past a mix of forest land and farms. With many developed campsites, it’s a good choice for an overnight trip. The trip down the upper Big Fork begins at the USDA Forest Service picnic area at Dora Lake. An interesting side trip is the so-called Lost Forty, about 4 miles to the northwest, an area of virgin red and white pine missed by loggers because early maps showed the area to be underwater. A 0.5-mile trail loops beneath the canopy of pines.
Dora Lake, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing,Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 79.8
The Big Fork travels placidly across the boggy and forested northern Minnesota landscape. This section affords a lazy paddle and remote camping. This quiet and often sandy stretch of river flows unhurriedly past a dense forest of birch, aspen, spruce, and fir. The first half of the run, from MN 6 to the next MN 6 bridge, is quite remote, surrounded by the dense forest and bog of Pine Island and Koochiching State Forests. The second half of the segment frequently loops back to within earshot of MN 6.
Effie, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 38.5
Birch Lake is an excellent lake to explore with a canoe or kayak. It winds through the rock outcrops and forests north of Babbitt. It stretches more than 20 miles and totals 7800 acres. The 80-mile shoreline is jagged, with many bays and islands. Because of its serpentine shape, it is relatively well protected from strong winds. Fishing is good for walleyes, northern pike, smallmouth bass, and lake trout.
Babbitt, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 20
The upper Blue Earth is a typical Minnesota farmland river, running through looping meanders and screened from surrounding farm fields by woodlands along its banks and bottomlands. Put in on the East Branch of the Blue Earth at Leland Park and Beyer Field, on the north edge of Blue Earth. Within 0.5 mile, the stream will join the main stem of the Blue Earth. The river ducks under I-90 (river mile 98.8) and wends slowly northward. Notable sites include Winnebago Wayside Park (river mile 83.5), Winnebago (river mile 76), the Dodd Ford Historic Bridge (river mile 60.2), Vernon Center (river mile 43.3), and Gage Wildlife Management Area (river mile 25.2).
Blue Earth, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 88.5
In medium to high water, the Blue Earth provides a quick, fun run down one of the most beautiful valleys in southwestern Minnesota. Avoid the turbulence below the Rapidan Dam. Below the dam, the Blue Earth runs through a deep gorge. In the shadows of high bluffs, paddlers dodge rocks, slice through standing waves, and ride the swift current of frequent Class I rapids. Of the many boulders in the streambed, “Big Moe,” a glacial erratic at river mile 6.0, is particularly notable.
Mankato, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 11.9
A trip to Basswood Lake doesn't require much portaging but puts the paddler into some of the best fishing in Minnesota. With hundreds of lakes and few serious anglers at work, the Boundary Waters offers remarkable fishing for northern pike, walleyes, lake trout, and smallmouth bass. Some anglers will want to take plenty of tackle, including depth-finders and fishing boats with outboard motors. As a result, they’ll stick to the larger lakes were motors are allowed. Other anglers will be satisfied to fish from a canoe, using a minimum of gear. They are free to paddle and portage to remote lakes that are fished only lightly.
Ely, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length:
Here's a trip that provides great fishing and backwoods travel - if you're ready to portage. Put in on the small creek leading to Mudro Lake. Paddle to the northern corner of the lake and follow a 30-rod (165 yards) portage and 140-rod (770 yards) portage into Fourtown Lake. Head into the western bay and portage and paddle through Boot, Fairy, and Gun Lakes. From the long bay at the northeast corner of Gun Lake, portage 300 rods (1,650 yards) into Wagosh Lake.
Ely, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 36
This is a great trip short trip- perfectly suited for beginners- with a short portage and a surprise at the end. Portage into North Hegmen and paddle to the narrows at the far end of the lake to view the collection of dark red figures and symbols on the left side of the long bay, several feet above the waterline. The figure of a man stands as if in surprise, with arms outstretched and fingers spread apart. Standing with him are a moose and dog (or wolf). Crescent-shaped canoes float on the rock face. This tightly composed picture is one of the clearest of the many Indian pictographs scattered throughout the Great Lakes region of United States and Canada.
Ely, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 4
If you like the idea of paddling and portaging deep into the woods, here's a trip for you. The total distance is 35 miles and 35 portages, including a monster carry of 1.5 miles near the end. Paddling time is two to five days, depending on your determination to travel. There are no particular hazards except getting lost and losing your shoes in muddy portage trails. Here’s a trip to test your ability to travel light. You’ll do okay if you can pare your gear to the essentials so that you need to take only a single trip down each portage trail.
Tofte, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 35
The Boy River is a quiet, slow stream that winds past unsettled forest and marsh. Begin your trip at the public access on the so-called South Bay of Inguadona Lake. The name of this long, narrow lake name comes from the Ojibwa word equademog, meaning “edge of the slope.” Follow Inguadona northward about 3 miles to the beginning of the Boy River. Most paddlers will want to end their trip at CR 8, before reaching the windy expanses of Leech Lake. If you wish to continue downstream to the lake, take out at Blackduck Point or Sugar Point. Watch out for winds and high waves on Leech.
Longville, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 22.8
The Brule roars through one big, distinctive rapid after another as it races toward the big lake. Big drops don’t give you much notice. The run begins with a little Class II warm-up water. But after about 2 miles, the river kicks into high gear with a Class V screamer called Sauna Bath, for the old sauna house sitting by the riverside. It’s a long, steep, bouldery drop that requires deft moves in fast, heavy current.
Hovland, MN - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 9.1
The Cannon races through a series of easy rapids and passes tall, rocky bluffs on its way to the Mississippi River. Less than a mile below the put-in, the Cannon runs through the largest rapids on this segment of river, a wavy, class I drop at the railroad trestle just downstream from the confluence with the Little Cannon River. The river scoots out of the town of Cannon Falls, running through quick successions of easy rapids as it burrows ever deeper into its limestone valley.
Cannon Falls, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 19.1
The upper Cannon is an intimate, wooded stream with gentle current. Start this trip at the Two Rivers access, at the confluence of the Straight and Cannon Rivers. With a drainage of 443 square miles, the Straight is larger than the Cannon here. The area comprises a variety of habitat, including maple-basswood forest, oak woodlands, savanna and prairie, and floodplain forests. In spring, seasonal ephemerals cover the forest floor. The area is a refuge for many bird species as well, including Cooper’s hawks, great-horned and barred owls, wood and hermit thrushes, and warblers.
Faribault, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 28.2
The Cedar is a small farmland river, screened from the surrounding agricultural landscape by a think veil of woods. The Cedar flows through southern Minnesota as a small farmland river. Only after it enters Iowa does it grow into a major river, joining the Mississippi in southeastern Iowa. This description includes 25 miles of the Cedar in Minnesota and 5 miles in Iowa to the Otranto, Iowa, takeout. The trip begins near Lansing.
Lansing, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 30
The Chippewa River provides a pleasant run through southwestern Minnesota’s farmland. Begin your trip at the city park at Benson (river mile 52.0). The Chippewa River provides a wooded retreat in the farmland of southwestern Minnesota. Most of the route is heavily wooded. Bluffs rise above the river, making for pleasant vistas as you look downstream. A few Class I rapids mark the route. With some marshes and lakes in its headwaters, the Chippewa tends to hold its water well into summer. When the flow of water is adequate, the Chippewa provides some exciting fishing for medium-size northern pike and, in spring, walleye.
Benson, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 39.3
The wild upper stretch of the Cloquet makes a two-day canoe trip with enough rapids to keep the paddling interesting. Forest wildlife that you might see includes ospreys, bald eagles, black bears, moose, and even timber wolves. The height of the waterfall where the river enters Island Lake Reservoir depends on the reservoir level. High water in the reservoir may completely cover the waterfall; low water may create an unrunnable falls several feet high. Scout first.
Brimson, MN - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 37
The Cloquet races through a series of pools and easy rapids to its confluence with the St. Louis. The lower Cloquet provides good fishing for smallmouth bass, brown trout, and other species. No particular hazards, though rapids get markedly more difficult near the river's mouth. This stretch of the Cloquet varies between wild and bucolic. A riverside forest of pine, fir, spruce, aspen, and birch occasionally is broken by farmland and a few homes and cabins. Several bridges cross this stretch, but there are no large towns or cities.
Duluth, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing,Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 29.6
The stream is narrow, quick, and sinuous, flowing through frequent Class I stretches. The Cobb, often called the Big Cobb, is a winding and rather swift tributary of the LeSueur that flows by high bluffs and occasional cliffs. The stream is narrow, quick, and sinuous, flowing through many Class I stretches. It’s narrow enough that downed trees can block much of the channel, so watch out, especially in high, swift current. In high water (800 cfs), the river kicks up long Class II wave chains.
Beauford, MN - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing,Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 27.8