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New to kayaking here and want to get suggestions for best trip experiences (segments) on the St Croix. Lot's of info online but I'd like to get a couple of well-traveled reviews from the group here! Any concern about rapids for newbies? Thanks!
I have paddled the stretch from Interstate Park down to Afton State Park a few times. I have heard about some relatively mild Class I-II rapids on the upper St Croix above and below the Kettle River confluence down to the Snake River confluence, but I have never been on that stretch.
Taylor's Falls, just north of Interstate Park at the site of the bridge between Taylor's Falls, Minnesota and St Croix Falls, Wisconsin is a Class II-III rapid that has some whitewater play spots at appropriate water levels. Below Interstate Park I do not recall anything that I would call a rapid although there are a few riffles.
The stretch from Interstate Park to Afton goes past William O'Brien State Park, which could be an alternative put-in or take-out site, or a campsite for an overnight trip. It also goes past Stillwater, Minnesota due east of the Twin Cities.
The river is generally broad and scenic but in late summer and early August, the water level can be low and the river can shallow out at times. The stretch upstream of Stillwater is quite braided which contributes to the shallow water potential. And the river is broad enough that headwinds can be a problem. Low water levels and headwinds can make for a very long day, so be advised.
Thanks for the input! We paddled the stretch from Nelsons landing to Hiway 70 this weekend. There was some light rapids on that stretch, nothing we couldn't handle. Looking forward to exploring more of this river.