Our annual sibling weekend day-trip on the Crow Wing River just north of Staples, MN was a short one this year. We usually have a mix of tubes, kayaks, and canoes. This year was cooler with temps in the low 70's and a cool north breeze so we decided to stay dry. 2 canoes and 3 kayaks made the annual trip from my brother's place on the river near the 40 mile mark (DNR map link below) to McGivern County Park. Total was just over 4 miles and we covered it in about 90 minutes at a leisurely paddling pace. Normally this trip will take us a few hours with tubers and a lot of time in the river cooling off and goofing off.
Wildlife consisted of a few Great herons, a lot of turtles sunning themselves on rocks, and only 1 bald eagle this year. Kingfishers are common and we've seen white tail deer on occasion.
River was somewhat low with a few exposed sand bars. Bottom tends to be mostly sandy with some rocky areas. We all ran into sandbars a few times and had to get out and drag a few feet to get into deeper water but not enough to be a hassle. The water is very clean and clear. We could see the bottom in places as deep as 4-5 ft. There were a few riffles and exposed rocks. The less experienced crew in one canoe had one rock collision resulting in a team effort to get them off the rock just prior to the boat landing. This is a great paddle for newbies to canoeing or kayaking.
Next year we plan on getting in the river earlier in the day (weather permitting) at Cottingham county park and getting out at my brothers place for a total of about 9 miles on the river. No tubing on that stretch as we'd end up needing flash lights to get out.
We stayed in our luxurious 2-room Coleman suite (tent). Parks and landings along the river have picnic areas and rustic rest rooms. Camping is also available in some spots.
From Minneapolis, North on Hwy 10 through St. Cloud and stay on 10 all the way to Staples. Go north on Co Rd 30 out of staples and find one of many landings to get in or out of the river. See the map link below for landing locations.
River/Creek (Up to Class II)