Kettle River State Water Trail

Kettle River

The Kettle River is one of the best whitewater rivers in the Midwest. It is bounded by dense forest, with rocky cliffs and bluffs occasionally rising one hundred feet above the river. The Kettle is designated as a state Wild and Scenic River. The total watershed covers 1,056 square miles.

River locator map


River segments and maps

Get maps and more information for this river's two segments:

  1. Kettle River to Sandstone
  2. Sandstone to the St. Croix River


Most of the river is bounded by a heavy forest of black spruce, fir, birch, aspen, maple, ash, elm and scattered red, white and jack pine. Rocky cliffs are common along the Banning and Lower Kettle River rapids. The river passes a few towns, houses and some farmland, and several bridges cross the upper reaches.

Fish and wildlife

Eating fish from a Minnesota river or lake? Read the MN Department of Health's fish consumption advisory.

Crappies are taken in the reservoir above the Sandstone Dam.


  • Smallmouth bass
  • Walleye
  • Northern pike
  • Channel catfish
  • Sturgeon
  • Redhorse


  • Coyotes
  • Beavers
  • Otters
  • Muskrats
  • Mink
  • Raccoons
  • Gray and red fox

Big game

  • White-tailed deer
  • Black bear
  • Bobcats


  • Ruffed grouse
  • Canada geese


Established in 1967 as a state water trail, the Kettle River was named "Akiko zibi" by the Ojibwe. The name literally translates to "Kettle River," named for the water-worn rocks found near its rapids, five miles above the junction of the river with the St. Croix River. 

The Kettle was the focus of considerable industry near the turn of the century. The forests, once thick with pine, were logged. Land near the river was mined for sandstone and copper. The river itself was dammed to generate electricity and to float sawlogs to nearby mills. Many people near Sandstone took refuge in the Kettle River when the Hinckley fire swept through Pine County September 1, 1894.

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