Canoe Minnehaha Creek
NOTE: Due to high, fast flows, downed trees, debris, and impassable bridges, Minnehaha Creek is unsafe for paddling until further notice.
Minnehaha Creek flows 22 miles from Lake Minnetonka to Minnehaha Falls, winding through tranquil woodlands, expansive wetlands, dense urban landscapes, neighborhoods and scenic park land. Under the right conditions it affords paddlers a beautiful adventure through an urban wilderness.
Paddling the entire creek typically takes five or six hours, although you may want to tackle it in stretches. The creek starts at Gray's Bay in Minnetonka, where it flows through undeveloped wetlands and natural areas. It becomes more urbanized as you float through Hopkins and St. Louis Park, more residential as it snakes through backyards in Edina, and flanked by trails and parkways as it flows through Minneapolis. There are mandatory portages at Browndale Avenue and West 54th Street in Edina, and, depending on conditions, you may need to walk around certain low-clearance bridges.
Ideal creek flows for canoeing are between 75 and 150 cubic feet per second. When the current is too fast, there is a higher chance of tipping the canoe or sustaining an injury. When it is too slow, you may find yourself doing a lot of portaging and hiking through the water! Conditions can change rapidly, especially after rainfall. Avoid the creek during any unsafe conditions. View the Minnehaha Creek's flow level here.
|DISCHARGE (Cubic feet per second [cfs])||CREEK CONDITION|
|Less than 75 cfs||Poor|
|75 cfs - 150 cfs||Good|
|Greater than 150 cfs||Dangerous|
You can download a PDF creek map here, or view it as Google map at the bottom of this page.
Rental canoes and kayaks are available through the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, University of Minnesota Outdoor Rentals, Hoigaard's in St. Louis Park, and REI's three Twin Cities locations.
In some stretches the creek is narrow and winding, so it's important to know how to navigate a canoe, especially during rapid flows. In addition to portages and sharp turns, you may encounter boulders and downed trees. Be safe and always wear a life jacket when paddling the creek, even if it seems too shallow for danger. Store your valuables in something waterproof and wear clothing that dries easily. Bring water and sunscreen. And, of course, have a blast enjoying the great outdoors on Minnehaha Creek-an incredible community asset.
There is never a guarantee that canoe trips on the creek will be free from hazards. Information provided on this site is for general advice only; users proceed at their own risk.
- Check the current creek discharge when planning a trip and before you set out.
- Risk of illness and pathogens also increases during rainfalls and for 72 hours after rain stops. (See our Water Pathogens Advisory for more information)
- Use personal flotation devices (pdf) – life jackets – and other appropriate safety equipment.
- Consider the experience levels and abilities of those in your party and plan accordingly; use common sense and exercise caution.
- Be prepared for rapid changes in creek conditions, especially with high rainfall or following several rain showers in a short time.
- Watch for downed trees or other fallen objects that present navigational hazards.
- Be aware that some road crossings have very little clearance during high water conditions:
- Highway 169 in St. Louis Park (There is no portage around the highway)
- Wooddale Ave in Edina, just south of 50th Street
- Hiawatha Golf Course in Minneapolis (two crossings are impassable in high flows)
- Report hazards to MCWD or the city; these agencies cooperate in trying to remove obstacles (shoreline property owners are responsible for fallen trees).
- Check out other Canoe Safety Tips for kids and adults (Courtesy of the Minnesota DNR).
A nice time-lapse video of a paddler canoeing the final five miles of the Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis: