Root River Minnesota

Considering Minnesota for a late summer vacation {1st week of Sept. or 1st week of Oct.} and was told the Root river was quite a scenic little river to paddle. Thought maybe if anyone here has done it you could share some info regarding: recommended put-in/take-out areas for a scenic trip, distances between accesses, shuttle service availability, any difficulties encountered, and any other info you think it might be handy to have. Also I see there is a bike trail paralleling part of the river; what can you share about this? As always thanks for the help, it is much appreciated.

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One of the posters lives near the Root River and the Root River Bike Trail, a paved rail-to-trail conversion. You can also find plenty of tourism, food, lodging, camping info by searching on Root River Trail and the towns along the trail.

Beautiful country, part of the “driftless” area of the intersection of MN, WI, and IA.

You might also check out the Upper Iowa River around Decorah, IA.

Enjoy, enjoy.

DNR info

– Last Updated: Jun-23-06 9:03 PM EST –

Here is the DNR web info on the Root River including downloadable maps.
There is an outfitter in Lanesboro that has a website that might be able to help you also. Or schedule your vacation 3 weeks earlier in August and join the p.netters on the Wisconsin River for a 50 mile float.

Root River Info
Check out


You can download the E-book version of “Canoing The Driftless”, a paddlers guide for Southeastern Minnesota. Covers 600 miles of rivers including all the routes on the Root River.

Enjoy the River!

Minnesota Paddling Clubs
River Ramblers -

Minnesota Canoe Assoc -

hosting a trip July 14-16

Great little river
Some of the suggestions above are right on the money. A nice little float trip, and that should be right around the times the leaves are starting to change. There is a great bike trail along it(paved) and one of my favorite restaurants in Lanesboro called the Old Village Hall.

We did a peddle and paddle there a couple of years ago.

We hauled our own bikes and rented Kestrel kayaks from an outfitter in Preston, he had his own landing sites on private land and that part of it worked out quite nicely.

My wife loved the Root, I was a little so so about it. Have never cared for clay bank type rivers but the scenery is excellent.

Lodging in the area is minimal, we did a day trip.

The Minnesota DNR has descriptions of both the bike trail and a canoe route online for the Root.

They will mail them to you if you still have time.

Good luck

We enjoyed the Root, but it’s a tourist
area. It provides an easy canoe camping situation and the canoe campsites are only accessible from the river. We stayed at a private campground (Eagle Cliff) at the beginning and end of the trip. Really nice folks and the lady shuttled us to our put in. We took out at the campground, 50yds from our campsite. During the week the river was empty, but by the end of our trip there were plenty of folks. The good thing is that loud parties are discouraged and the area is family oriented. The bike trail and towns are set up to cater to peddaling and a bike shuttle is hilly, but nice. Lots of wildlife and the river is secluded from roads in most places. Also, no power boats or PWCs. I did a trip report that might still be somewhere on p-net. David Lind’s book, Canoeing the Driftless is very good and available on line.

If you want something wilder, try the Crow Wing. It’s northwest of Brainerd, MN. We stayed at White Dog County Park and day tripped, but would like to go back and canoe camp. The section from Huntersville State Forest to Old Wadena County Park is canoe friendly with almost no power boats.

In September the water levels could be low in the upper midwest, so check carefully and have some alternatives.

there’s always the Mississippi Headwater
That time of year would be gorgeous I would think. Definitley going to be camping your way through though.

Bemidji State University runs a rental program for canoes and gear, and I’m going out on a limb but could probably find you a student to hire for the shuttle. I’d love to see that area when the leaves are doing their thing.


My backyard
I live close by. In the spring the Root can flood. In the fall, it can be low. I’d stay away from the upper reaches in August/September. Stay below Lanesboro. Chances are it will be a wet walk above it.

I generally go from Peterson to Houston, which is a full day. I occasionally will start further up stream at Lanesboro or Whalen and camp at the DNR site by Money Creek. The DNR sites are unremarkable for canoeist. They are a bit nicer for the bikers. You can hike up the trail from the Money Creek site to the bike trail where they have a nice grassy area, nice fire pit and a three-walled shelter with picnic tables.

Below Houston a little bit the river widens and things get a bit more mundane, though Mound Prairie is nice. Well before Hokah the river is just a wide flood plain.

Lanesboro is a tourist town that has some stuff going on. The rest of the towns (Whalen, Peterson, Rushford, Houston, Hokah) are just small towns. Nothing wrong with them, but not places where you’re going to find a lot to do.

I say have a pleasant evening in Lanesboro. The next day paddle to a DNR campsite and spend the night. Paddle another day and take out at Houston. Drive a few miles down Hwy 16 to see Mound Prairie. BTW the Root paralles Hwy 16 for most of its run. The highway on one bank and the Bike Trail on the other.

You’ll probably still have solitude, however. The highway is often blocked by the high banks. Also, I paddled the day after fishing opener and saw one fisherman fishing from shore, and one bicyclist on the trail.

The MN DNR is a good resource. You can view the maps online and/or send away for them.

Root River info:

As far as shuttles, the outfitter in Lanesboro is the only one I know of, though I’m not shopping for shuttles. I use my wife’s shuttle service. :slight_smile:

Watch out for strainers.

Root River
I paddled the Root this past Sunday, from the CR 21 landing upstream from Lanesboro down to the Eagle Cliff landing. The 16 miles took me just under 5 hours. It’s a beautiful stretch of water for a beginner like myself. I ran into only 2 other canoers until I got close to Lanesboro and the float tube traffic. There were some spots where the water was pretty thin, had to pull the canoe over 3 or 4 skinny spots. The scenery is terrific, very peaceful.

Yep, but after Labor Day …
the tube traffic is gone below Lanesboro and the water is shallower above it. I think the outfitter is still operating but mainly because of the bike trail. Still, it probably is a good idea to have a talk with the outfitter before your trip: 1) make sure he’s open and able to shuttle you; 2) ask about the water level and the paddleabilty of the river.

Peterson to Rushford Area
There’s a lot of float tubers in the Peterson to Rushford area. Not as many as Lanesboro, but more than enough on a nice weekend day.