Search The
Visit Minnesota Website

Minnesota Water Trails

Kayak or canoe more than 4000 miles of Minnesota water trails. Minnesota rivers and streams provide scenic paths through our natural beauty. Early voyageurs and explorers used Minnesota waterways as highway to discovery. The water trails throughout Minnesota have now become part of the state's vast playground.

Minnesota water trail

"Rivers are roads which move, and which carry us whither we desire to go." ~Blaise Pascal, 17th-century French Philosopher

Thirty-five designated water trails throughout Minnesota are maintained by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Our water trail system is the oldest in the U.S. and covers more than 4,500 miles.

Trip Planning - Reviews of all “the best of” deals, prices and attractions for your Minnesota Vacations.

The information and links on this page will connect you with the many possible places to go canoeing or kayaking along Minnesota water trails.

The Lake Superior Water Trail hugs 155 miles shoreline along the world's largest freshwater lake. With 10% of all the fresh water on earth, Lake Superior offers a spectacular environment for canoers and sea kayakers. Enjoy the dramatic scenery along the great lake, the harbor towns along the shore and all that Lake Superior has to offer along the Lake Superior water trail.

In the same area, the St. Louis River offers seven miles of rapids through Jay Cooke State Park.

The Superior National Forest has more than 2,000 lakes and rivers that offer a chance to canoe, boat, fish and camp. Visit and play in the areas of Minnesota where early Native Americans, voyageurs, missionaries, loggers and explorers once traveled. Here is the DNR guide to the Superior National Forest.

About a third of the Superior National Forest lies within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Visitors to the BWCAW will find solitude and back country recreation. Permits are required and special regulations apply to visits to this area.

The U.S. Forest Service manages the 1 million acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota.

Other Major Minnesota Water Trails

The Mississippi River runs for about 680 miles through in Minnesota; the entire river is about 2,350 miles long. Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park is the source of the Mississippi River. The river is the most famous Minnesota water trail.

The waterways along the Mississippi River range from calm and quiet scenic rivers to whitewater paddling opportunities through rocky rapids in northeast Minnesota. From it's small beginning in Itasca, the river widens significantly near St. Cloud's Beaver Islands, then continues on to the water of Lake Pepin at Lake City.

The Minnesota River is about 370 miles long. It flows into the Mississippi at Fort Snelling State Park.

Minnesota Water Trails

Minnesota Wild and Scenic Rivers

Some of Minnesota's rivers have been designated wild and scenic rivers under the Minnesota Wild and Scenic Rivers Act or the National Wild and Scenic River Act. 

These are the rivers with that designation: 

  • St. Croix River on the border with Wisconsin features a 200 foot deep gorge, ice age potholes, and scenic formations on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.
  • Kettle River in Pine County
  • Mississippi River from the city of St. Cloud to the cities of Ramsey and Dayton
  • North Fork of the Crow River in Meeker County
  • Minnesota River from the Lac Qui Parle dam to the city of Franklin
  • Rum River from Ogechie Lake to the city of Anoka
  • Cannon River from the city of Faribault to the Mississippi River
  • Root River in Southeast Minnesota offers calm paddling water that is ideal for families.

Boundary Waters Canoe Trails

Maps and Lists of Water Trails in Minnesota.

More About Minnesota Water Trails

Minnesota's Wild and Scenic Rivers

Water trails in Minnesota
Explore the Great River Road established in 1938 as the national parkway of the Mississippi River. Its route traverses nearly 3,000 miles through 10 states. Read more about the Great River Road in Road Trip USA Great River Road

Related Pages:

Minnesota Hiking Trails

Minnesota Bike Trails

Minnesota ATV Trails

Minnesota Cross Country Ski Trails

Minnesota Snowmobile Trails

Back to Minnesota Trails

Plan Your Minnesota Vacation

Trip Planning - Reviews of all “the best of” deals, prices and attractions for your Minnesota Vacations.

Shop the Largest Collection of Bed and Breakfast Inns at

Minnesota Vacation Rentals by VRBO - Choose a vacation rental in a specific area or get ideas about some of the best Minnesota vacation destinations before you decide. Take a look at some of these fantastic properties and locations for your group of any size.

You'll Find Great Prices on Minnesota Hotels at Hotels.Com

Travel in style. For less than a hotel. Vacation rentals in over 12,000 destinations.

Find Top Vacation Package Deals on


Subscribe to Minnesota Monthly

Only in Minnesota

Minnesota Nice: Adult Coloring Book Full of Minnesota Love

Minnesota Travel Books

Minnesota Entertainment 

Ticket Liquidator: Minnesota Events Tickets and Venues Get deeply discounted tickets on top Minnesota sporting events, concerts, and shows. Timberwolves, Golden Gophers, Top Concerts ....More. Continuously Updated with current ticket offers.

Made in Minnesota

Minnesota Entertainment: Discount tickets to sporting events, concerts and shows. Save up to 50%.

Lodging in Minnesota - Hotels - Resorts - Bed & Breakfast Inns - Vacation Rentals

Minnesota Gifts & Souvenirs

Minnesota Visitor Site Map

About Me

Contact Us

Minnesota Visitor Home Page


For personalized travel information call 888-VISITMN (847-4866)

Minnesota Department of Natural resources 888-646-6367

Minnesota Historical Society 888-777-8386

Judith Ramsey - Publisher
Copyright © 2005 ~ 2018
All Rights Reserved

Amazon Associates Disclosure
 - We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Minnesota State Parks: From Afton to Zippel Bay

Advertise On Visit Minnesota

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Minnesota Explorer.

Our Sponsors


Minnesota Vacation Rentals by VRBO - Choose a vacation rental in a specific area or get ideas about some of the best Minnesota vacation destinations before you decide. Take a look at some of these fantastic properties and locations for your group of any size.

Recent Articles

  1. Minneapolis Shopping - A Minneapolis Tourism Treat

    Mar 18, 18 06:35 PM

    Minneapolis shopping is often high on the list for those who enjoy Minneapolis tourism destinations.

    Read More

  2. Minnesota Twin Cities

    Mar 17, 18 09:39 PM

    The Minnesota Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis offer Minnesota visitors a wealth of culture and fun.

    Read More

  3. Stillwater Minnesota Vacations

    Mar 16, 18 07:11 PM

    Enjoy Stillwater Minnesota vacations spots. If you are looking for Minnesota vacations in one of our charming small towns Stillwater is a wonderful choice.

    Read More


Find Great Deals at!

Find amazing deals on vacation rentals on FlipKey by TripAdvisor. Destination Inspiration: Not sure where to go? You've come to the right place!

PARK 'N FLY Savings


Book Your Business & Vacation Rentals

Save On Airport Parking, Vacations with more room.

TicketLiquidator Logo

Last Minute deals


Free Grocery Coupons

Minnesota Events Ticket Sales

Advertising Disclosure

Privacy Policy