Willow River State Park

We spent some time at Willow River State Park (WI) today. It’s a pretty sweet park, and barely an hours drive from the cities. I’ve written about it a couple times before. As usual, Willow Falls are the highlight of the park, and they were packed with people swimming, wading, and jumping in the water.

Willow River State Park.

I even jumped in myself!

That’s a gold medal right there.

We also took the canoe out on the lake for a bit, and here’s a tip: right across the lake from the beach, there’s a cool rope swing for jumping into the lake.

Willow River State Park.

If you live in the Twin Cities and you’ve never been to Willow River State Park, I recommend you check it out. It’s a pretty cool place to spend a saturday.

Canoeing with KP

Guess what? This afternoon, Mel and I went on our first canoe ride since KP was born a year ago. We decided to check out Cedar Lake and Brownie Lake. KP loved going under the bridges and through the culverts.

Canoe Ride

KP liked to hang out up front, which turned out to be the best place for her since the canoe sidewalls are a bit higher there.

No standing in the boat, please.
She smacked her face once and cried.
KP Hamming it up.

How about you? Do anything fun this weekend?

Rice Creek Water Trail

The Rice Creek Water Trail is a 23 mile chain of lakes along Rice Creek between Lino Lakes and the Mississippi River.  Mel and I decided we wanted to canoe Lower Rice Creek, which is the portion of the water trail between Long Lake in New Brighton and the Mississippi River.

The Rice Creek Watershed District recommends that the river is “canoeable” if the water depths (measured in Mounds View) are above 8.3 feet.  Today, water levels were at about 8.07 feet, technically “not canoeable.” [Note that this water depth measurement does not mean that the creek we were canoeing on was 8 feet deep.  It means that somewhere else in the watershed district (wherever they take the readings) it was 8 feet.  Most of the creek we saw was less than a couple feet deep.]  But we decided to take our chances, and found conditions to be fantastic.

This might have been my favorite canoe trip in the metro area so far.  Rice Creek seems to be moving a little bit more quickly than the Rum River, for example.


At one point, Melanie announced that she couldn’t paddle anymore because it hurt her foot too much, so I became her chauffeur.  I don’t know, though… I think it might have been a trick.

I’m not gonna try and map our canoe route down Rice Creek, but here’s the approximate route I biked back to Long Lake to get the car.  While we were canoeing, we noticed a lot of folks cycling along what looked like a pretty neat bike trail through Locke Park.  I tried to take that trail back, but took a couple unfortunate wrong turns and got lost, so I just stuck to the streets.

View Larger Map

Canoeing Minnehaha Creek

This last weekend, Mel and I canoed down Minnehaha Creek with some friends.  It was our third time canoeing the creek.  The first time, the water was really high, and it was a pretty wild ride.  The second time, the water was way too low.  This time, conditions were perfect for canoeing.

We started at Synagogue Cemetery on France Avenue in Edina.

Construction on the Bryant Avenue Pedestrian Bridge were a pretty big pain, mostly because a fallen tree was stuck underneath the construction, blocking the whole river.

Nicollet Avenue Bridge:

At 35W, we found this sign telling us that the creek was closed.  We were pretty skeptical that it was actually closed, so we just kept going.

Ta Daaaa! Not actually closed!

But another fallen tree slowed us down a bit.

At the Hiawatha Golf Course, some of the bridges are pretty low and you have to duck under them.

The End.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Heading up north for the weekend!

I saw that the weather forecast for Ely, MN, includes lots of rain for Friday and Saturday, so I decided to take the day off and go canoeing! Sounds great, huh? It will be fun. Here are my goals for the weekend:

1. Don’t eat fish (obviously)
2. Don’t throw any fishing poles to the bottom of a lake (don’t ask, I was very angry when this happened…)
3. Don’t complain about having to paddle (Wife hates it when i complain…)
4. Go swimming
5. Jump off a cliff
6. Find a way to sneak sodas into our packs while Wife isn’t looking

Canoeing the Kawishiwi River

Our adventure this week comes from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, specifically, the Kawishiwi River. Melanie and I, along with our friends b+k canoed over 15 miles of the river. It’s not a traditional river, really – It’s more of just a string of lakes connected by a few sets of rapids. The trip took us pretty much all day, and we were exhausted by the time we finished. Here are a few photos of our day on the river:

Here’s a photo of us after finishing our trip while we waited for our ride to pick us up.

Canoeing Minnehaha Creek

Our second adventure for this past weekend was a canoeing trip down Minnehaha Creek. Minnehaha Creek is a very urban stream that runs right through the heart of South Minneapolis. It’s by far the smallest stream Mel and I have ever canoed. Because it’s so small and the current is faster than many rivers in Minnesota, we expected it to be really easy. We were wrong, though. There were so many tree branches hanging down into the water that it was really difficult to avoid them all – especially with the current pushing you along pretty quickly. So we ended up with a few scratches from hanging tree limbs and such. But it was still a lot of fun. We started in Edina in Pamela Park and finished in Lake Hiawatha in Minneapolis.
The trickiest part of our adventure, though, was the logistics of taking ourselves camping. Here’s how it worked. We loaded up the bicycles and the canoe on our car and drove to Lake Hiawatha. We left the bikes there and drove about 5 miles up-stream to Pamela Park. We levt the car there and canoed back down to our bicycles at Lake Hiawatha. There, we chained our canoe to a tree and rode the bikes back upstream to the car. Finally, we drove back to Lake Hiawatha, picked up the canoe, and came home.
Since the creek is in the middle of a very urban area, there were a lot of bridges to go under. Some of them were extremely low. On half-a-dozen locations, there was only a foot or two of clearance space between the top of the canoe and the bottom of the bridge. We had to lean back as far as we could and lay flat against the top of the canoe to fit under the bridges. Another hazard: golfers.
Up next week: it will be hard to have an adventure this weekend since I’ll be out camping with the 11 year-old scouts friday night (NOTE: while that may be an adventure of it’s own, since Mel isn’t there, it doesn’t count).

Canoeing the Wisconsin River

UPDATE: go here for Scott and Brittany’s version of this adventure.

For our adventure this week, we went canoeing on the Wisconsin River near Sauk City, WI. We met up with some friends, and spent two days canoeing about 17 miles (..or was it 12 miles….?). The Wisconsin River is a great place to canoe because the current is strong enough that you don’t really need to paddle. If you’re in the river, you’re moving downstream (mel and I know from experience that this is not the case with many rivers in MN). For example, here’s Melanie lounging on the front of the canoe – she isn’t even holding her paddle.

Of course, Mel caught me a few times without my paddle, too. The umbrella in the canoe in the background is shielding the youngest member of our group (1.5 years) from the sun.

And it wouldn’t really be canoeing without stopping a few times along the way to soak your feet.

Next week: Boston!