Long Prairie River State Water Trail

Long Prairie River
Photo by Joe Korkowski.

The Long Prairie River gently flows through a diverse landscape of shaded woods, farm fields, small towns and floodplain meadows and forests. It begins at Lake Carlos in Lake Carlos State Park, and winds its way eastward to meet the Crow Wing River near Motley.

The river is named for a narrow twenty-mile stretch of prairie that bordered its eastern side from Charlotte Lake northward to Fawn Lake Township.

River locator map


River segments and maps

This river has only one segment. Get maps and more information.


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 State Park, 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 Browerville north, the river flows mostly through an ecoregion that features many lakes and streams amid a patchwork of formerly grassy and forested areas. Almost all of the original forest was cut down but second-growth forest still remains, and along some stretches, leafy trees provide shade over the water all summer.

Fish and wildlife

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


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


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


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. Euro-American families 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, towns were springing up along the river, the prairie was being plowed into farm fields and commercial logging was clearing the forests.

The river was established as a state water trail in 2001.

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