Shuttle up Lester River Road (from Lester Park, on North edge of Duluth) to a SMALL pulloff in the trees where the river is close to the road, and bends away upstream (about 1.5 miles north from Superior St).
Some may wish to carry above the short, boney ledge at the put, while others will just seal-start into the pool below. There is plenty of action on this short run, so you're never too far from the next drop. Most drops merit scouting.
First up is a mini-gorge where the river twists to the right. Usual line starts well to the left, then paddling hard to draw across to the center (in the heart of the bend) and power through the hole which forms as the river opens up below the gorge walls.
Another drop of concern starts with a couple ledge/waves (with not-so-obvious piton rocks present center-stream), then a brief stretch of strong current, leading to about a 6' ledge into a particularly sticky hydraulic. Staying tight to the rock on the left, one may avoid the meat of the hole.
Numerous wonderful slides, curved ramps and relatively steep boulder gardens follow.
The most significant drop on the run, Almost Always (because it is, or was, 'almost always' portaged) occurs where stone walls rise and the river cuts deep. (Scout right.) While the drop itself is only on the order of 25', the height of the rock walls flanking this drop add to visual impact of the drop. While the drop is not sheer vertical, the landing zone (in a somewhat gnarly looking hole) is rumored to be relatively shallow.
Action below this is significantly milder (though still entertaining), as the river finishes its route to Lester Park. Take out is either above or below a final short (~3-4') ledge into a large pool backed up by a shallow cement ridge/dam. It is not advised to proceed beyond this point, as the river joins with the flow from Amity Creek to drop through some powerful holes, turn and churn against a polished rock wall, and pour over a final ledge, before meekly meeting the waters of Lake Superior.
A USGS sampling site lists drainage at this location as 53 square miles. (Since this is downstream of the confluence with the Amity, with drainage of 16 square miles, that makes puts the Lester about 37 sq.mi. above that confluence.)
Rapid Names are as follows: Put-in Slide, Limbo, 2 Mini-limbos, Naked Man, Mini-Octopus, Holy Shit, O My God, Almost Always, Unemployment. In order put-in to take out.
Visual, at take out in Lester Park and/or at put in.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Lester River Creeking
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!