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Paddle Minnehaha Creek

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.

Below is a variety of information on how to safely enjoy this iconic resource. MCWD provides this information but does not regulate recreation on the creek. These activities are undertaken at the users’ own risk.

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.

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.

View Real-Time Minnehaha Creek Flow at Hiawatha Avenue


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.

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.


Our prinatble PDF map contains detailed information about access points, conditions, and points of interest: 

This interactive map contains the same information and works on mobile. View it in full screen here

What should I bring?

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

Known obstacles:

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: