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Paddle Minnehaha Creek

*Update 9.21.2020:  Dam discharge is at 20 cfs and flows at Hiawatha are measuring 44 cfs currently.  Creek flow rates will subside quickly without additional precipitation.  Creek flow rates below 75 cfs are considered poor paddling conditions.  There are a number of downed trees in the creek please refer to the obstacles section below.

 ***Active Construction (5/12/2020): The week of May 11-15, 2020, construction crews will be working on the Southwest LRT bridge over Minnehaha Creek east of Cottageville Park in Hopkins, and will intermittently hold paddlers for safety reasons at Cottageville Park, during periods of construction.  Please be on the look out for the spotter located at Lake St. and Cottageville Park.

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. 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.

FLOWCREEK CONDITION
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.

Maps

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. This page reports known obstacles as they are reported, but should not be considered a real-time or exhaustive list.

  • ACTIVE CONSTRUCTION at the 28th Ave S bridge in Minneapolis but currently open for passage (4/22/20)
  • ACTIVE CONSTRUCTION site at the regional trail bridge over Minnehaha Creek in St. Louis Park with the possibility for causing delays to passage.  This area may not be passable 5/4/2020 - 5/8/2020.  Paddlers will be intermittently held at Cottageville Park for safety reasons (5/4/2020).
  • Tree down after Hopkins Crossroads (9/11/2020)
  • Deadfall blocking left passage where creek briefly splits near St Albans Road (at the first bell). The right passage is passable (9/11/2020).
  • Before Minnetonka Blvd. bridge, deadfall across creek (9/11/2020).
  • Tree down across Minnehaha Creek, south of Meadowbrook lake, east of the railroad tracks, before Yosemite Ave. in St. Louis Park (reported 5/18/2020)
  • Two trees partially blocking Minnehaha Creek just east of Cottageville Park in Hopkins (4/30/2020)
  • Tree down across the Mill Pond in Edina, just upstream of the Browndale Dam (reported 6/3/2020)
  • Tree fallen across Minnehaha Creek east of Beard Ave. S., just as you enter York Park in Edina (5/8/20)
  • Tree down across Minnehaha Creek, east of Xerxes Ave, near Vincent Ave. S. and 54th Street (reported 5/22/2020)
  • Tree down across Minnehaha Creek, downstream of the pedestrian bridge at  W. 52nd St. & Morgan Ave. S. (reported 5/26/2020)
  • Tree down across Minnehaha Creek, downstream of Portland & 50th, east of the pedestrian bridge (reported 5/28/2020).
  • Small tree across Minnehaha Creek near Colfax Ave. S. (reported 6/10/20)
  • Large tree hanging low over Minnehaha Creek, just upstream of Lyndale Ave. S. (reported 6/10/20) 
  • Brush down across Minnehaha Creek, downstream of 12th Ave. S bridge, on the south side of the creek extending nearly all the way across the creek, difficult to pass (6/10/20)
  • Tree down across creek, east of Nokomis Ave. (reported 7/8/20)

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: