Canoe Minnehaha Creek (unsafe conditions currently)
High water update - Water levels expected to remain high
With 2016 on track to be the wettest year on record in the Twin Cities, MCWD is actively managing water levels on Lake Minnetonka and Minnehaha Creek. Because of fast-moving water in Minnehaha Creek, we recommend against paddling on the creek at this time. Rapids, downed trees, debris and low bridge clearances all pose hazards for paddlers when the creek is flowing quickly.
Due to recent rainfall, Lake Minnetonka’s water level is about 6 inches higher than desired for this time of year. In an effort to lower the lake level without impacting downstream communities, the District closely monitors the weather forecast and adjusts Gray's Bay Dam discharge rates accordingly. The goal is to lower Lake Minnetonka to the desired level of 928.6 prior to ice-in, which allows room for the spring snow melt.
The District manages the Gray’s Bay Dam in accordance with a DNR-approved operating plan that’s displayed on this graph. Due to the wet trend that’s in the long-term forecast for the Twin Cities, water levels on the creek will likely remain high for the next several weeks as we work to draw down Lake Minnetonka before winter.
MCWD is coordinating with the National Weather Service, Hennepin County Emergency Management and local communities on the high water response.
Paddling Minnehaha Creek
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.
What are the best conditions to paddle Minnehaha Creek?
Ideal creek flows for canoeing are between 75 and 150 cubic feet per second (cfs). We do not recommend paddling when the creek’s flow is higher than 150 cfs. Conditions can change rapidly, especially after rainfall. View the Minnehaha Creek's flow level here.
|Less than 75 cfs||Poor|
|75 cfs - 150 cfs||Good|
|Greater than 150 cfs||Dangerous|
Is it safe?
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! Consider the experience levels and abilities of those in your party and plan accordingly; use common sense and exercise caution. Watch for downed trees or other fallen objects that present navigational hazards
How long will it take?
Paddling the entire creek typically takes five or six hours. You may want to tackle it in stretches, especially if it is your first time.
Which section should I paddle?
Different sections of the creek offer different paddling experiences.
- The creek starts at Gray's Bay in Minnetonka, where it flows through undeveloped wetlands and natural areas. This stretch is the most likely to have high enough water for paddling.
- The creek becomes more urbanized as you float through Hopkins and St. Louis Park, but includes the newly-restored Minnehaha Creek Preserve, part of the Minnehaha Creek Greenway.
- The creek snakes through backyards in Edina and is flanked by trails and parkways as it flows through Minneapolis.
There are mandatory portages at Browndale Avenue and West 54th Street in Edina. Crossings beneath Highway 169 in St. Louis Park and Hiawatha Golf Course in Minneapolis have very little clearance during high water conditions.
You can download a PDF creek map here or use the interactive map below.
View Minnehaha Creek Canoe Map in a larger map
What should I bring?
- Life jacket
- Waterproof containers for storing valuables
- Clothing that dries quickly
Who should I call about removing downed trees or other obstacles?
Contact the city where the tree or obstacle is located.
- City of Minnetonka: 952-988-8421
- City of St. Louis Park: 952-924-2562
- City of Hopkins: 952-939-1382
- Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board: 612-313-7710
Where can I rent equipment?
- Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
- University of Minnesota Outdoor Rentals
- Hoigaard's in St. Louis Park
- REI's three Twin Cities locations
What does it look like?
Here’s a neat time-lapse video of the final five miles of Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis: