Water Trails in the Twin Cities

kayakers on rice creek water trail
Kayakers on the Rice Creek Water Trail

There are 35 official State Water Trails in Minnesota. All are on rivers, except the Trail along Lake Superior’s North Shore.

Here are several options that are within the 7-county metro area. All of these are suitable for canoe, kayak or stand-up paddle board:

Cannon River State Water Trail (Dakota County)

The Cannon River flows through, or forms the border of, four counties. There’s a 7-mile segment and a 12-mile segment on the southeast side of Dakota County. The Cannon has been designated a “wild and scenic” river. Read more…

Crow River State Water Trail, North Fork (Hennepin County)

The North Fork of the Crow River flows through five counties. There’s a 16-mile segment that forms the northeast border of Hennepin County. This “wild and scenic” river will take you through woods and rolling farmland. Read more…

Mississippi River State Water Trail (downtown Minneapolis segment)

For experienced paddlers, this 5-mile route follows the Mississippi in the heart of Minneapolis. It includes navigating through navigational locks, as well as other boats and river barges that can produce large wake. Read more…

Mississippi River State Water Trail (Anoka and Hennepin Counties)

The River forms the border between Anoka and Hennepin Counties here. Launch at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park West /Mississippi Gateway Regional Park and paddle south.

Mississippi River just below the Coon Rapids Dam, the west shore, on the right, looking over to an island, on the left

You can get out either at Anoka County Riverfront Regional Park on the east side of the River, or North Mississippi Regional Park on the west side. Just over 8 miles. Read more…

Rice Creek Water Trail (Anoka County)

While not an official State Water Trail, the Rice Creek Water Trail is still a great option. It begins just below the dam at the Peltier Lake boat launch in Lino Lakes. From there you’ll paddle through part of the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes and follow Rice Creek until it joins the Mississippi River. It’s 23 miles if you paddle the whole route.

A lovely paddle through preserve, woods and urban development. Read more…

Read: Kayaking in Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve

Rum River State Water Trail (Anoka County)

The Rum flows from Mille Lacs Lake and 145 miles south to join the Mississippi River in downtown Anoka. The entire river is a designated “wild and scenic” river. The Anoka County segment starts at Rum River North County Park and flows down to the Mississippi. Read more…

St. Croix River State Water Trail (Washington County)

The St. Croix flows 169 miles from its source in Wisconsin to its confluence with the Mississippi River. There’s a gorgeous 15-mile stretch between Interstate State Park (by Taylors Falls) and William O’Brien State Park. Woods, high bluffs, and backwaters to explore. Read more…

Read: Kayaking the St. Croix River

Kayaking on the beautiful St. Croix River

For details on rules, outfitters and water levels, go to the Minnesota DNR’s (Department of Natural Resources) Water Trails resource page.