River Canoeing

When one thinks of canoeing, a calm peaceful lake at sunset with loons calling in the background, often comes to mind. While lakes are beautiful things, don’t forget the peacefulness and often WILD excitement of a river.

 

Rivers are great because most have a flow that make paddling (or not paddling) easier! I do recommend that you take a paddling river course to learn a few basic strokes to avoid obstacles, mainly rocks, and to learn how to “read the rapids”.  The Duluth area has a great course offered through Community Ed.

Consult a map for local rivers and ask stores in your area that carry canoes for tips on close river trips. Local book stores and sporting goods stores should carry books on local paddling spots.  Local DNR offices are also a great resource.

If you are just getting into river canoeing, the canoe does make a difference.  River canoes should be made from a material that can handle bouncing off of rocks and other obstacles. Royalex is a canoe material favored by our staff. Another important part of the river canoe is kneeling pads. The lower you are the more steady the canoe will be. When approaching rapids, get on your knees!

Bending Branches Expedition Plus Paddle

Bending Branches Expedition Plus Paddle

The canoe paddle also makes a big difference. Don’t bring your new bent shaft paddle on the river to get splintered on the rocks! A straight shaft is the way to go (you need this to post and pry, two popular paddle strokes). Above is our river paddle of choice. This paddle,  the Bending Branches Expeditional Plus paddle,  also had a T-grip, helpful for holding on tight to perform quick stroke movements.

And of course don’t forget your life jacket/PFD! Always have your life jacket on, now matter what the weather or calmness of the river. I made this mistake ONCE when approaching rapids, I was sitting on my PFD and we overturned on a river in a Colorado canyon and I will never make that mistake again (check back for that story).

Always scout the river if you encounter rapids! You could do a stretch of rapids 100 times and that 101st time could have a fallen tree, log, or other obstacle.  Yes, I do have another “mistake” story to tell about this, but that can be a whole other blog post.

Other necessities are first aid kit, water, bug spray, hat/sunglasses, sun block, snacks, change of clothes, rain gear, and a map. Make sure all your gear is fastened down in the canoe. Strap it all in!  Keep our rivers clean!

Rivers are often great  fish habitats, so ask around at local bait shops and bring your fishing pole!

So don’t just limit your canoeing experiences to lakes only, give rivers a try, you may just get hooked! Stay tuned for more on my top 5 rivers in the area…

  1. Bois Brule River, WI
  2. Namekagon River, WI
  3. Kettle River, MN
  4. St. Louis River, MN
  5. St. Croix River, WI & MN

*Always remember canoeing can be a dangerous sport, canoe at your own risk.

2 thoughts on “River Canoeing

  1. TylerMN

    Canoeing rivers is a blast. MN has so many little/medium rivers to check out. Find a good partner (my wife is a great river paddler), leave one vehicle at the end point, usually a bridge, and drop in and enjoy.

    One of my favorites for a long bit in college was Clearwater River out of Clearwater lake by Bemidji. Great diving, fast current with plenty of bends, good scenery, and no other people around.

    Reply
  2. ErikH

    Don’t forget the upper reaches of the Cloquet River as well. There is some beautiful water up there, great fishing, and solitude aplenty! Stop down to the store and i can show anyone some access points.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

     

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>