Dark, Minnesota, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-III (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||10 fpm|
Overall gradient is not all that high due to a fair amount of flatwater (ok, that's pretty typical for the Midwest), but you will find some good areas of gradient. Size is pretty decent (50 sq.mi. drainage at former USGS gauge site at listed take-out), so it should be boatable a decent number of times each year. Aerial views online appear to show a good number of stretches which look interesting.
So . . . has anyone paddled this stretch? Help out your fellow paddlers with some first-hand information via the "Add a Comment" button which should appear below for all registered, logged-in users of this website. Or, add a 'report' (with photo(s)/video(s), if possible).
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|2.7||West Knuckey Creek||N/A|
|2.9||A Walk in the (Dark) Woods||N/A|
|5.0||End of best gradient||N/A|
This appears to be a pretty straight-forward stretch of light rapids . . . on the Dark River -- twilight leads into darkness of the day, so . . ..
An initial straight pitch leads to a brief pool, then a second pitch (with a slight bend, briefer pool, and a final bending pitch). You'll then have about 1/3rd mile of pool preceding the next drop.
Dusk is the start of darkness at the end of the day, so what better name for the second part of the entrance rapids on the Dark River! A brief warmup move precedes a twist to the right for a straight-away (read-and-run) rapids. Wood (deadfall) may be a problem here, so be alert!
The initial sequence ends in a bit of a pool above a sharp left turn. Downstream the river is generally wider, with occasional light rapids (becoming ever more widely spread) as you continue to Hwy.65/Osborn Road. So, it's "Lights On" from here for a good bit.
The river encounters what looks possibly like a large rock (or small island), and immediately behind it lies the confluence with West Knuckey Creek. (This is primarily as a 'way point'/'mileage marker'.)
After the stretch of meanders in a wide floodplain, at this point the river enters a much more tree-lined stretch, and encounters some random bits of gradient. It appears it should be pretty easy to 'read and run' any of the minor rapids/swifts through here, but be vigilant for deadfall and snags which could block the river, making a 'walk in the woods' (portage) necessary.
The river constricts, trees encroach, and gradient picks up for the next 0.15 mile. This looks like a crux stretch of river, with a liklihood of being class III (give or take) -- either a lot of fun or (if there are too many trees or branches in or overhanging the river) a major pain (and a portage). Be prepared! Be vigilant! Be careful!
From this point, there appears to be just shy of a half-mile of nearly continuous (or at least intermittent, with very minor gaps) low-grade rapids or rips. There are a couple good bends in the river, and it appears there may be some concern regarding trees (deadfall/snags), so proceed with caution, looking well ahead, being prepared to scramble for (what may a very small) shoreline eddy to exit and portage if/where necessary.
There appears to be some sort of (small) ledge at this point. For the next half-mile downstream there appears to be a fine series of random bits of swifts (minor rapids).
We have no direct information about the land river-left (though it appears likely to be managed (man-planted) forest). It appears there may be double-track lanes through the trees. If this is not all posted/gated, it may be (or not) possible to get in to this point to drop a take-out vehicle and forego the remainder of the unexciting distance (2-3 miles) on this river.
Leander Creek enters from river-right, and signals the end of the best gradient on this run. Downstream, increasingly you encounter broad floodplain and meanders.
A former USGS gauge was sited at Carpenter Road, and listed 50.6 Sq.Mi. drainage at that point.
If one proceeds downstream of the listed take-out, there appears to be only two decent shots of gradient (rapids) in the next 1.2 miles of river to a conceivable access point. The first is a very short rips here.
If permission can be obtained to park and carry out to the private property at the end of FR678, there may be some merit in extending your run down to this point. You would probably wish to walk down to the river to have a good visual (maybe even tie a 'flag' of some sort to a tree, if there is no other distinguishing feature to ensure you don't miss your take-out). Absent that permission, downstream of this point it's two full miles to the next road crossing, and you'd find two very minor rapids/swifts and otherwise nothing but flatwater as the river meanders in broad floodplain (with many oxbow lakes in evidence).