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2021 Northern Minnesota River Trip - Trip Report

Our 2021 river trip in northern MN is complete and one for the record books.  I was celebrating both my 40th birthday and the 23rd anniversary of my Eagle Scout board of review, so I gathered my other pals from my scouting days and we planned a week-long river trip.  After six-months of planning and anticipation we made it happen.

We initially planned to kayak, fish, and camp all 70+ miles of the Cloquet River in Northern MN.  This would be about 16 river miles a day, which always seemed ambitious but we rolled with it.  We launched at the start of the river near Indian Lake and proceeded from there.  We went into this knowing the low water conditions of the river and that some of the rapids may not be runnable.  Holy cow, was this ever the case.  We spent most of the first two days dragging our kayaks over the rocks and rapids, but we were still catching fish and enjoying some of the best scenery MN has to offer.  We completed about 12 or so river miles the first two days and had one lost phone and one wet wallet.  Camp one one and two were watercraft campsites.  These are rustic campsites sponsored by the DNR.  We all setup hammock shelters including my older ENO One Link, a couple Hennesey, and a Kammock.  These sites are pretty small, so my new Sea to Summit Telos didn't see much action.  After only getting a dozen river miles behind us in two days we decided to revise our plans.  We opted to get transported further downstream and base camp from the Cloquet River Campground

Day 3 was the game changer!  After spending too much time walking over rocks, we're now much further downstream and taking 6 -11 river mile day trips and camping at night at base camp.  It was on!  Days 3 and 4 brought in hundreds of fish between the five of us, some of which we kept and had an amazing feast the following few nights.  We're finally able to actually run the Class I-III rapids which brought smiles across all of our faces.  I knew the scenery in this area would be pretty, but I had no idea how gorgeous it would truly be.  We had one moose sighting, one black bear swimming, and countless eagles about.  The beavers were everywhere and the fish were jumping.  

I would certainly run this stretch again, but wait for more favorable river conditions.  If you ever et a chance, I would highly recommend spending some time along the Cloquet20210614_221252667_iOS.jpg20210615_192550819_iOS.jpg20210615_194215268_iOS.jpg20210615_214849486_iOS.jpg20210616_011015284_iOS.jpg20210616_111043000_iOS.jpg20210617_172736215_iOS.jpg

Keep Calm and Paddle On
1 Reply

Hey @KayakTony , it looks like you were paddling fishing kayaks?  So when you mentioned rapids, I'm assuming they were only like class I and easy to navigate?  I can't imagine doing much more with kayaks where you sit as high as it looks like you were sitting and most fishing kayaks I've seen are pretty flat bottomed.  I'd be paddling either a 12 ft crossover or a 16.5 ft sea kayak and my boyfriend would be paddling a 15 ft kayak.  If we are stopping to camp along the way I'd probably have the sea kayak as it has more storage space since it has a front bulkhead as well as a rear whereas the crossover only has a rear bulkhead.  If we base camp I'd bring my crossover.

It sounds like after a while you gave up making progress down river and stayed camped at the same place for a few nights.  Did you then just paddle up and down the same stretch of water every day or did you have access to cars to move your kayaks down river?

Also, I'm assuming since there were multiple of you paddling together, you arranged your own car shuttle?  If not, what service did you use?

Sorry for all the questions.  I'm looking for a kayak camping adventure for August.

Thanks!

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Found Myself Outside
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