St. Louis - D) Hwy.61 (Scanlon) to CR210 (Thomson Reservoir) (3.4 miles)

St. Louis, Minnesota, US


D) Hwy.61 (Scanlon) to CR210 (Thomson Reservoir) (3.4 miles) (Upper)

Usual Difficulty II-III (varies with level)
Length 3.4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 12 fpm
Max Gradient 25 fpm

Electric Ledge

Electric Ledge
Photo taken 04/21/13

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04024000 1000 - 10000 cfs II(III) 00h39m 1530 cfs (running)
Low boatable. (Good beginner to intermediate level.) Gauge (3,430 square miles drainage) is very near put-in (reflecting outflow from dams above) and will very accurately portray flows in this section.

River Description

This stretch is a popular raft trip, convenient to Duluth and (slightly less so) to Minneapolis/St.Paul. Action is very pool/drop, with significant stretches of flatwater between the drops, as well as a reservoir to paddle across at the end of the trip to access the take out.

Put in is at a rafting outfitters, where parking of vehicles by private boaters is tolerated in the further reaches (closer to the frontage road) of the grassy lot.

A brief access paddle (crossing under I-35) leads to the first rapids. The river bends right, then left, through a series of small, smooth waves, and (on river left) a couple rocks which create a couple of good play holes. The rodeo crowd will spend much time here.

The main feature on the run is Electric Ledge. As power-lines span the river, a bedrock intrusion into the river chokes the stream to flow through a couple of waves and holes. Play may be possible here, depending on levels as well as boater confidence and ability.

Not far downstream, an island splits the river. The left channel (normal run) is Little Kahuna, a fine, long boulder garden, with a couple potentially sticky holes toward the end, river right. The right channel loses most of its gradient at the head of the island, as it trips down a particularly jumbled, boney falls, Big Kahuna. A couple possible lines exist to run this, though most choose to pass (running the left channel, as previously described).

There are a few other scenic dells and a couple minor rapids on the run before the gradient peters out, as one reaches the backwaters of the Thomson Dam. Nearly a mile (it will seem longer) of paddling across the reservoir will bring you to a pier (to the left of the dam), where you will carry across a poison-ivy covered berm, and to the parking lot at the paddling center at Hwy.210.

Check out the DNR map for this river.

A Minnesota boating group, Rapids Riders, has a fine river map (in the style of William Nealy) available HERE.

Want to see some video of the river in FLOOD? 45,000cfs!!!

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-01-03 23:03:44


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.5First LedgeIIPlayspot
2.0Electric LedgeIIIPlayspot
2.1Big KahunaIVWaterfall
2.2Little KahunaIIIPlayspot

Rapid Descriptions

First Ledge (Class II, Mile 0.5)

As the river takes a right-hand-bend, a series of sweet waves is encountered, leading to a decent hole toward river-left. A couple big rocks here alter the flow to create some good play waves and holes.


Playboaters will spend considerable time here (sometimes not bothering to even go downstream, but instead carry back to the put-in).

Narrows (Class II, Mile 1.5)

The river narrows through a bit of a dells. There are minor rapids leading in and out of this area. Some boaters enjoy taking out river-left and carrying up a path to a high outcropping from which they can do a high 'seal start' into the river. (Depth at the base is plenty good to 'go deep'.)

Electric Ledge (Class III, Mile 2.0)

When you see the high powerline overhead, you'll know you have come to the biggest drop on the run. This one will change dramatically with different flows. A rocky ledge exists on river-right, from which you can scout the main drop (at low-to-moderate flows).

Big Kahuna (Class IV, Mile 2.1)

Downstream of Electric Ledge, an island splits the flow. Most traffic is advised to go to the left. To the right, right at the head of the island, there is a short, steep, rocky pitch. With the right flows, there are runnable routes down this falls, but you will definitely want to scout throroughly. Since river-right loses almost all the gradient here (there is vey little down the rest of the right side of the island), most folks who do run this will carry back across the top of the island or take the first available channel to the left to head down river-left side of things, where more action awaits.

Little Kahuna (Class III, Mile 2.2)

In the river-left channel, most traffic stays toward the island (channel-right) to splash through (or catch) a couple of sweet wave/holes. At some flows, these may be a bit 'keepy', and better avoided.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 5 2015 (1316 days ago)
claiborner01 (156042)
A group of us paddled the Upper on 9/3/15. There is a log in the main tongue of Electric Ledge. It
can be run to the left of it, but it should definitely be scouted. A rooster tail can be seen where
the log is. Take caution and be safe.
September 8 2004 (5207 days ago)
Matthew StakerDetails
For paddlers who are traveling to this area and staying... Knife Island Campground is located just
off the highway on the East side of the River across from the rafters location. This is a private
campground and features 30 sites with a private put-in. A little close to the highway if you're a
light sleeper, but overall, a nice place. Update: visited again Aug/04 and there were some nice
site improvements. Free firewood provided at each site... excellent!
September 13 2002 (5933 days ago)
Matt MuirDetails
In Scanlon to Thompson, there is a new improved put in specifically for paddlers at Scanlon across
the road from where the rafters put in. It has lots of parking, dressing rooms, porta potti and a
walk down to an improved put in (no more mud up to your ankles) Its about 200 yards upstream of the
raft put in , on the other side of the bridge.

Mike Flannigan

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