MINNESOTA PADDLE GUIDE
We are lucky to live in a state with so much water. Do you want to get out and explore more with your paddle board or kayak, but not sure where to go? We've put together a list of our favorite places to paddle in Minnesota. This is in no particular order, and far from complete. The opportunities are limitless, but hopefully this provides some inspiration.
MINNEAPOLIS CHAIN OF LAKES
If you live in the Twin Cities, you are probably well aware of the Chain of Lakes. The most popular for paddling would be Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska, Lake Nokomis, and Cedar Lake. They are all extremely accessible and provide great scenery with the Minneapolis skyline as a perfect backdrop. Because there is no significant commercial development along the shoreline, it provides a peaceful and scenic escape despite the urban setting.
Taylors Falls is one of the most scenic paddle spots in MN and is just under an hour drive from the Twin Cities. You'll be surrounded by colorful trees, bluffs, cliffs, and wildlife. The St. Croix River is also one of the cleanest riverways in the country. You can launch right from the Interstate Park and begin exploring on your paddle board or kayak. Because this is a river, plan ahead on where you intend to paddle. You can paddle upstream and then turn around for a more relaxed return trip. Otherwise, there are companies that can offer a return shuttle back to the Interstate Park. They won't haul your paddle equipment, but for a small fee will give one member of your party a ride back to fetch a vehicle.
Once known for its numerous mines, Cuyuna has now become a Minnesota epicenter of paddling and mountain biking. It's even more stunning in the fall. Abandoned mining quarries have been transformed into crystal clear lakes with clarity up to 40 feet. The conditions are perfect for paddling. If you need help planning your paddling excursion, you can find some inspiration here. Bring your paddle board or kayak AND your mountain bike for a very memorable weekend outside.
FORT SNELLING STATE PARK
Just behind Fort Snelling at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota River, Fort Snelling Regional Park is a beautiful and peaceful (aside from some airplanes) paddle spot. It's a mixture of the Minnesota River tributary, wetland, forest, and lakes. There is plenty of space to explore while out on the water, along with diverse wildlife to enjoy.
Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world and provides the ultimate paddle boarding experience. There are numerous places you can paddle along the North Shore - from the historic Duluth Harbor to the rugged shoreline of Tettegouche State Park. Because of its size and location, the water is quite cold and can quickly become treacherous. Therefore, it is not recommended for beginners - especially as it begins to get colder outside in the fall. But paddling on this great lake is an incredible experience with endless amounts of beautiful scenery along the coast. For water trail ideas and maps, visit this website.
The Rice Creek Water Trail is comprised of a creek and chain of lakes, including Long Lake, Rice Lake, and more. The upper trail begins in Lino Lakes at the Peltier Lake boat launch and continues for over 15 miles, ending in Long Lake in New Brighton. Similar to the Minnehaha Creek, water levels have an impact on the experience, so it's important to check this site to see if it's an appropriate time of year to paddle. There are also clearly marked sections that require a short portage, or obstacles (such as debris, trees, rocks, etc.) you will need to go over or around. Here is a map to plan your route.
The Minnehaha Creek runs from Lake Minnetonka all the way to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. It connects many of the Minneapolis lakes mentioned earlier and is perfect for an urban paddling experience. You'll experience scenic nature, along with classic urban neighborhoods and parks. It is not always possible or ideal to paddle on the creek, so you'll have to check here to see if water levels are appropriate. There are two sections that can be paddled: 1) Lake Minnetonka to Edina, and 2) Edina to Lake Nokomis. Here is a helpful map.
Covering more than 2,200 acres, Forest Lake offers plenty of peaceful scenery and clear water to explore with your paddle board or kayak. When you're finished paddling, downtown Forest Lake boasts some quaint restaurants where you can unwind.