Even though Ramsey County has the fewest lakes of any of the Twin Cities metro counties, there are still 111 lakes here! And many give ample opportunity to kayak, canoe and paddle board. Not to mention two of Minnesota’s largest rivers—the Mississippi and the Minnesota—are here, too.
Any lake or river with a public access is fair game for kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding. But here we’ll focus on those waterways in the park system—national, state, regional and county.
(There are no vehicle fees unless noted.)
Como Regional Park (St. Paul)
Much-beloved Como Park is full of family-oriented activities. One of your options is paddling on Como Lake. You’ll need to bring your own canoe, kayak or paddleboard on your car top (trailers aren’t allowed in the parking area).
68-acre Como Lake is a non-gas motor lake, so your time out there will be peaceful. Here’s the Como Park map.
Fort Snelling State Park (St. Paul)
Fort Snelling State Park, on the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, has a few paddling options. The big rivers themselves have boat launches in a few spots. Their current is generally fine for paddling upstream as well as downstream for an out-and-back trip. There’s also lake paddleing, with carry-in trails to tiny Blackhawk Lake, into larger Gun Club Lake and on Snelling Lake.
Rentals are available at the park office. You’ll need a daily or annual Minnesota State Park Pass to enter the park (also available at the park office). Here’s the Fort Snelling map.
Hidden Falls Regional Park (St. Paul)
Hidden Falls is on the east bank of the Mississippi River (or north bank, as the River is flowing from west to east here). There’s a boat launch along the river bank, for paddle craft as well as motor boats. You can either leave a car downstream and head there, or paddle upstream first then float back down for an out-and-back trip. Here’s the Hidden Falls map.
Keller Regional Park (Maplewood)
Keller Regional Park is Saint Paul’s oldest park, and includes three connected small lakes. The boat launch is on the northern-most, Spoon Lake. Paddle through down to Keller and then down Keller Creek into Round Lake at the south end. Keep going into Phalen Lake for even more paddling. NOTE: Keller Creek has a weir—a small dam-like structure you’ll do a quick portage around.
Another option: from the Spoon Lake launch, head north to Gervais Lake. It’s not part of the park, and will be busy with motor boats on summer weekends, but it gives you more paddling options. Kohlman Lake is also connected, on the northeast side of Gervais if you’d like to complete the entire chain. Here’s the map of Keller.
Mississippi River State Water Trail
The Mississippi River State Water Trail is the southern border of Ramsey County. A great day trip is the 6.5 mile segment from Hidden Falls Regional Park to Harriet Island. You can add more by first paddling upstream to the Ford Dam, then back down.
If you’d like a longer trip, continue on to launches in Dakota or Washington Counties. This map covers the Ramsey County section + more.
Phalen Regional Park (Saint Paul)
Phalen Regional Park is very popular, welcoming half a million visitors each year. Lake Phalen is one of Saint Paul’s largest lakes at 198 acres. The lake is limited to electric motors only, so you’ll enjoy a quiet paddle without boat wake.
You can stay on Lake Phalen, or paddle the chain up Keller Creek into Round Lake, then Keller, then Spoon and up out of the park system into (motorized) Gervais Lake. It’s to your advantage to arrive early on the weekends to get a parking spot at the boat launch area. Did we mention this is a very popular park?
Twin Cities Paddling Guide
Published in 2020, our 52-page digital Paddling Guide is the easiest way to find local lakes and river trails in all seven counties of the Twin Cities metro area.