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Difficulty I-III
Length 22.3 Miles
Flow Range 3.50 - 6.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 2.99 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 12/11/2019 1:31 am

River Description

(Description thanks to jetmanjake, davefriend, and JeffB from RapidsRiders message board.)

Some grade I-ish paddling can be cut if you put in at Aitkin County Park, about 5 mi north of the jct of highways 65 & 27. The park entrance is a clearly marked dirt road that runs east off Hwy 65. Stay left when on the dirt road to eventually get to the park. It is 2 to 2.5 miles off the highway.

The take-out is found by going east on 360th Ave and then turn left when 360th ends in a T intersection (approx 5 mi). After the left turn, go until you reach a bridge crossing the snake (less than a mile). 360th Ave is the dirt road that runs east from the junction of Hwys 65 & 27. (Hwy 27 runs west and is paved.) This junction is the village of Woodland - a bar and couple of buildings on the west side of Hwy 65.

All wheel drive may be an asset at times since the unpaved roads can be rather mushy.

The two significant rapids (Upper and Lower Snake River Falls) are both signposted, scout both river left. The term "falls" is a definite over-statement. Still they are fun sections with the river at about 3' or so. The first is a ninety-degree left hand turn against a wall, the second is a gorge-y bit that forms a couple holes, maybe III- at medium flows. While you'll paddle some fairly long stretches of flat water, Lower Falls is a fairly continuous rapid, maybe 900 yards worth. Since this stretch is paddled often in open canoes, both rapids are well posted with portage trails for those not inclined to run it. The rest is a good beginner/canoe run with I-II riffles.

Minnesota DNR has a web page with pdf maps at DNR Canoeing - Snake River. The "top left" pdf shows the section of the river we are talking about in a scaled up inset. Note that the pdf calls 360th ave "County Road 82" and/or "State Forest Road". I've never seen signs in the area with those designations. Likewise, the pdf map calls Olympic St. "County Hwy 23". I don't recall that there is any kind of signage for this road...

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage: 145 sq.mi.

Class - N/A Mile - 0
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Drainage area at our listed put-in is approximately 145 sq.mi. (as calculated via USGS StreamStats Beta software).

Marked rapids

Class - N/A Mile - 2.29
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Aitkin County Park

Class - N/A Mile - 2.5
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This is an alternate (AND RECOMMENDED) put-in.

Upper Snake River Falls

Class - N/A Mile - 5.73
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This is approximately 0.25 miles of rapids, with twists and turns. The crux comes at a sharp (90-degree) left-hand bend.

Lower Snake River Falls

Class - N/A Mile - 7.15
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This lower 'falls' (rapids) continues (more or less) nearly 0.6 mile. There are two main crux areas, both fairly early in the rapid (at ~0.1 mile and ~0.2 mile into the drop).

Olympic Street

Class - N/A Mile - 8.15
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This is an alternate (and recommended) take-out.

If you use the alternate put-in (from the county park) and this take-out, you have a run of ~5.6 miles, and catch the best rapids and omit a lot of flatwater.

Marked rapids

Class - N/A Mile - 8.98
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Marked rapids

Class - N/A Mile - 12.34
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10 years ago

Paddled May 17, 2010 at 5.4 ft. Interesting river w/ a fair amount of flat water paddling. As description states, only two real rapids series; Upper and Lower Falls. Both are sign posted with portage trails on river left (good for scouting too). Wouldn't recommend a short boat for this paddle because of all the flat water. Shallow river but at this level it was easy to avoid/go over the rocks. Paddle took us a little more than 1.5 hours (doesn't include shuttle time) but we were hustling.

Gage Descriptions

The cited USGS gauge is for the Snake near Pine City. While this gauge is well downstream, a very rough approximation of the level for the run can be had by subtracting 2' from the real time reading of this gauge. Or, comparing drainage at the put-in to at the gauge, expect this reach to be (very roughly) 1/5 the flow at the gauge.

The boater's gauge is on the bridge at the takeout. Below about 1.5 feet you might end up getting out to walk on occasion. A level of 3' is just about perfect. Above 4' the river is pretty much washed out.

The river should be at or near 'banks-full' at the put-in (Silver Star Road) for good paddling. Normally this happens only in early spring or after a significant rainfall.

There is a link to river levels on the MN DNR web page mentioned below. These readings are submitted by volunteers, thus are often not up to date. The first of the reports - Ford Township Bridge - is the one to use. Note that the readings are dated.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



article main photo

Penobscot River Dams to be Removed!

Kevin Colburn

Atlantic Salmon and other imperiled fish species will soon have hundreds of additional miles of habitat. A recent decision between a power company, NGO's, tribes, and government agencies calls for the removal of two dams on Maine's Penobscot River and the bypassing of a third. American Whitewater applauds this huge win for rivers and is recruiting volunteers to assist with our work on the project. There is a public meeting December 2nd.

Derek Grisbeck




Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1213988 12/11/19 Derek Grisbeck updated description
1190750 04/15/09 Rob n/a