Skip to main content

Paddle Minnehaha Creek

Please note:

1) MCWD is advising people that it is unsafe to paddle the creek at this time. Ideal creek flow for paddling is between 75 - 150 cfs. Flows above 150 cfs can make it difficult to react to obstacles (downed trees, branches, etc) in the creek and to pass under some bridges.

2) A portage is currently required at the 28th Ave S bridge in Minneapolis due to bridge construction.

3) Minnehaha Creek Trail Bridge in St. Louis Park - Beginning the week of September 16, crews will begin demolishing the regional trail bridge that spans Minnehaha Creek in St. Louis Park. Demolition and preparation work will take about six weeks and then work will start on the new bridge. Flaggers will be monitoring recreational water use as there will be times that work makes it unsafe to travel through the area in the creek. Individuals using the waterway will encounter intermittent closures lasting approximately 20 minutes during construction activity. 

Paddling Minnehaha Creek

Canoe on Minnehaha CreekMinnehaha 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 paddling 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 at Hiawatha Ave here. We recommend using the flow at Hiawatha Ave to gauge how fast the creek is flowing in the lower half of the creek, and the Gray's Bay Dam discharge to gauge how fast the creek is flowing in the upper half of the creek.

Less than 75 cfsPoor
75 cfs - 150 cfsGood
Greater than 150 cfsDangerous

Please note that creek flow is different from dam discharge, as water runs into the creek from different sources like runoffstorm sewers, wetlands, etc throughout the length of the creek which impacts the flow.

Graph of real-time creek flow from USGS:

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 is a mandatory portage at Browndale Avenue in Edina. Crossings beneath Highway 169 in St. Louis Park and Hiawatha Golf Course in Minneapolis have very little clearance during high water conditions.


View the paddling storymap below:

Alternatively, you can download a PDF creek map or use the interactive Google map.

What should I bring?

  • Life jacket
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Waterproof containers for storing valuables
  • Clothing that dries quickly

Known obstacles:

These are the known obstacles in the creek reported to MCWD by the public or reported by MCWD staff. Due to high flows, city crews are not able to safely remove obstacles at this time.

  • REQUIRED PORTAGE at the 28th Ave S bridge in Minneapolis as the creek is closed for bridge construction (7/30/19)
  • Tree down across Minnehaha Creek south of York Park, Edina (reported 10/21/19)
  • Tree down in Minnehaha Creek north of 44th St and Thielen Ave, Edina (reported 9/23/19)
  • Large tree across Minnehaha Creek at 5440 Halifax in Edina (reported 9/11/19)
  • The 169 bridge is only passable on the left-hand side of the creek (reported 6/29/19)
  • Large tree across Minnehaha Creek on the east side of Brookside Ave bridge in St. Louis Park (reported 6/29/19)
  • Large tree in Minnehaha Creek near intersection of Brookside Ave and Yosemite Ave in St. Louis Park (reported 6/24/19)
  • Large boulder in Minnehaha Creek at 5036 Bruce Place in Edina (reported 6/21/19)
  • Two trees partially blocking Minnehaha Creek just east of Cottageville Park in Hopkins (reported 5/19/19)
  • Tree down across Minnehaha Creek just south of the Minnetonka Blvd bridge west of Hwy. 169 (reported 4/9/19)

Obstacles in the creek are removed by the city in which it is located. It is best to contact the city directly to report an obstacle (see section below).

Who should I call about removing downed trees or other obstacles?

Contact the city where the tree or obstacle is located.

Where can I rent equipment?

The businesses in this list are private. Inclusion in this list does not represent an endorsement by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. This list was last updated on May 2, 2019 and is not a complete list of all rental outlets.

Please note, MCWD does not provide shuttling services and is not aware of any companies offering this service.

What does it look like?

Here's a neat time-lapse video of the final five miles of Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis: