Long Prairie River State Water Trail

Long Prairie River

The Long Prairie River starts at Lake Carlos in Eastern Douglas County and winds eastward for 96 miles until it flows into the Crow Wing River, two miles southeast of Motley. Some segments can become slow and shallow in the summer. There are no major rapids.

Local contact and map

Long Prairie River location mapMap - geoPDF map - (What is a geoPDF?)
Todd and Morrison counties
Contact Parks and Trails central regional office: 651-259-5841

River character

The Long Prairie River varies in width and depth. Erosion is common along its banks that border fields. Portions of the River can become slow and shallow in the summer, so canoeing is often best during the spring and early summer.

Landscape

Encompassing rice beds, grass and cattail marshes, farm fields and riparian forests, the Long Prairie River flows through two of Minnesota's distinct ecoregions. From its source in Lake Carlos, where it looks like a small stream, the river begins its path eastward flowing into Todd County through terrain originally characterized by a mosaic of aspen and oak forest, wetlands and tallgrass prairie. Agriculture is not heavy along this section of the river. From north of Browerville, the Long Prairie River flows mostly through an ecoregion that features many lakes and streams amid a patchwork of formerly grassy and forested areas. Although almost all of the original forest was cut down, second-growth forest remains, and along some stretches leafy trees on its banks keep the river in shade all summer. In other parts, the banks are lined with farm fields.

Fish and wildlife

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

The Long Prairie River provides habitat for numerous woodland and wetland species of plants, trees, and wildlife, including green ash and paper birch.

Fishing

  • Northern pike
  • Walleye
  • Small mouth bass
  • Large mouth bass

Wildlife

  • Painted turtle
  • Blanding's turtle
  • Horned lark
  • Beaver
  • White-tailed deer

History

Before settlement by mostly European immigrants and pioneers, the tallgrass prairies and woodlands of the Long Prairie River watershed provided bountiful hunting and fishing to native tribes such as the Dakota and Ojibwa. Settlers began moving into the area in the 1860s, attracted by the river and its grassy valley for farming, and by large white pines for logging. Within a decade, Dakota and Ojibwa people had left the area, towns were springing up along the river, the prairie was being plowed into farm fields and commercial logging was clearing the forests.