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Shell Rock River in Minnesota

Trip Overview

We put in at the outlet dam of Albert Lea Lake, where the river starts, and paddled down the Shell Rock to Northwood, Iowa. It was an easy paddle. I took this trip with my young son and my father. We enjoyed the afternoon and the time spent together.

We encountered several fences across the river and one tree blown across the river just into Iowa. Shallow water was the major obstacle we faced. Sandy bottomed eddies were common annoyances throughout the day. At times they were across the entire channel. My experience with river canoeing is somewhat limited. I had to get out and pull the canoe over them frequently.

The Old Town Discovery 169 has three seats and is quite roomy. It also performed well as a solo canoe when my father and son decided they had had enough at the county road bridge just outside of Gordonsville, MN. This was at 6:15 (cell phone reception at this point was fine, as they called for a ride).

I continued on and finished out the run alone. The kayak paddle could still be used from the middle seat, despite the broad beam.

The scenery along the banks changes from wooded to open farmland and back quite frequently. We saw deer, osprey, blue herons, Kingfishers, and many other animals. The Carp were out in force and would startle us on many occasions with their jumps and splashing.

The fences encountered are for cattle pastures, the animals drink and cool off in the river. Manure is encountered in the river in places as a result.

Roughly two miles north of Northwood the river's drop becomes noticeable due to the frequent riffles encountered. The last stretch of the run is wooded and beautiful.

Our vehicle, along with my Dad and son, was waiting in Swensrud Park. We had started out at 12:45 and I arrived in Northwood at 8:30, right at dark. This included a brief rest in Glenville of one half hour.

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip