Little Fork River State Water Trail

Little Fork River

The Little Fork River flows north to meet the Rainy River, and is named for the fact it is the smaller of two tributary rivers to the Rainy. Rapids are separated by long stretches of quiet water. None are very long, though some portages are difficult because of brush. The Little Fork was originally known by the Ojibwe as "the river separating canoe routes," referring to its close proximity to the Nett River.

River locator map


River segments and maps

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

  1. Sturgeon River State Forest to river mile 90
  2. River mile 90 to the Rainy River

Fish and wildlife

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


  • Walleye
  • Northern pike
  • Muskie
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Rock bass
  • Sturgeon


  • Moose
  • Black bears
  • White-tailed deer
  • Timber wolves
  • Bobcats
  • Lynx
  • Beavers
  • Otters


  • Ruffed grouse
  • Various ducks
  • Bald eagles
  • Osprey


The rocks below the watershed are Precambrian igneous and metamorphic, and the lower river glides over flat land that was once the bed of glacial Lake Agassiz.

The area has been a traditional homeland to native peoples for thousands of years. The Laurel gave way to the Blackduck, who may have been the direct predecessors of the Dakota. The Dakota, or Sioux, inhabited the region until the Ojibwe laid claim to what would become northern Minnesota.

Magnificent stands of white and red pine near the Little Fork's headwaters were logged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The region's last major log drive was in 1937, down the Nett Lake and Little Fork rivers to the Rainy River.

The river was established as a state water trail in 1963.

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