Minnesota - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-20-2012   #1
Loveland, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 125

So I finished grad school and got the dream job. The only bummer is that I have to leave Colorado and move to MN. I did a quick google search and apparently there is some pretty good whitewater in MN judging by the youtube videos. Anyone here have any experience with MN? Where is the paddling? Is there decent MTBing? What is the super fun stuff to do in MN? I'll be based in Rochester and I'll appreciate any feedback. Thanks.

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Old 03-20-2012   #2
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Good news and bad news. The good: Fantastic creeking in MN. A road runs along the north shore of lake superior that has a class V river every 10 miles or so. The bad: each river usually only runs for a couple of weeks in the spring. The melt moves north, and the entire creeking season lasts approximately a month, month and a half in a good year. After that you're left with some class III play and one class IV-V that has water all year (the lower st. louis). American Whitewater has good writeups on most of your options. More bad news: all of the boating is in the twin cities (Vermillion, just south of town) or further north, and you're south if you're in Rochester. Some other summer boating to be had in Wisconsin, but it's also in the class III range. More fantastic creeking on the south shore of lake superior in the spring (upper peninsula of michigan, more writeups on AW), but those also have a short season. Generally, creeking starts on the south shore and moves its way north through Minnesota.

More road-trippable big wave playboating in Sturgeon Falls and Whitemud in Canada, but you're in for a drive.

There's plenty more mountain biking than kayaking, but you'll have to find someone else to feed you that info.

I learned to boat in MN. It's better in CO.
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Old 03-20-2012   #3
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Boise/Hokitika (New Zealand), Idaho
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 46
Welcome to MN

The bummer is only on the ski and climbing side of things. Creeking in MN is going to surprise you. I got my start kayaking in Duluth (heart of creeking country) and Craven is somewhat correct about the run off. My paddling journal indicates we are usually on the creeks by the first week of April and finish up around the last week in May for a normal year. The usually get a couple stretches of good rain in June that allow for good class V boating. You definitely develop an off-the-couch class V attitude in the North country. If you're into creeking this is going to be very different style than most CO boating (more like OBJ type style). Low volume, lots of big slides, and vertical drops. The entire North and south shores of Lake Superior are packed with quality creeks. Every 5 mins you'll run into another... you can get 3 high quality creek runs done in one day if you have the energy.

(Myself) Lester River... within the Duluth, MN City Limits

Check my blog for tons of pics, videos, descriptions of creeking in Northern MN: www.adventuresofburgess.blogspot.com. During summer it's pretty rough. Boating in the near the Twin Cities is pretty scant and consists of mostly Class III. The nearest whitewater park is in Wausau WI. Usually we had head 8 hrs up to Sturgeon Falls Manitoba for amazing playboating on the Winnipeg river (65,000 cfs... no tows, eddy accessible!). You'll get a few releases on the Lower St. Louis for some mid summer Class IV/V.

Sturgeon Falls

In terms of river descriptions... AW has little detailed documentation of MN boating for the majority of creeks and certainly not enough to get you out. The best/only guidebook is Northwoods Whitewater, it's largely accurate though slightly outdated.

In terms of MTB... there's a race every weekend! It's huge in the state and tons of riders. But get used to muddier conditions. I'm most familiar with the Duluth area which has some more technical riding as there is alot more bedrock and elevation changes to suit such riding. Check out the COGGS (Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores) website...tons of trails (COGGS - Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores). That's my two cents for starters.


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Old 03-23-2012   #4
Loveland, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 125
Hey Guys,

Thanks for all the beta. Looking forward to some new experiences in MN.
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Old 03-26-2012   #5
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Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Old 03-26-2012   #6
Breckenridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: May 2011
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I grew up in MN, learned to boat in CO and went back afterward. The water is warm in the summer. Made me want to go to Costa Rica.
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