Map: Pine River
The Pine River State Water Trail flows through the jack pine forests and glacial lakes of west central Minnesota. With the exception of the city of Pine River and the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, you'll find little development along the river.
Water levels usually peak in mid to late May and fall during the summer. They often rise again in September with another peak in mid-October. The river is generally runnable below the Cross Lake Dam throughout the summer. The river ranges from 25 to 150 feet wide and is gravel-bottomed with occasional boulders.
Hazards include several dams that require portaging - check the map for locations. North of river mile 46, paddlers should be alert for numerous box culverts and low culverts that may require portaging.
The Pine River drops an average of 2.3 feet per mile from Norway Lake to the Mississippi River, with large drops at the Pine River and Cross Lake dams. Be aware that large waves may develop in the Whitefish Chain of Lakes during windy conditions or significant boat traffic. Use caution and follow the shores.
Recommended day trip
Rock Dam to Harvey Drake access
- Put-in location: Rock Dam carry-in access, river mile 15.3
- Take-out location: Harvey Drake trailer landing, river mile 0.9
- Length: 14.4 river miles
This is one of the few routes without rapids on the Pine River. Begin below Rock Dam and paddle through the beautiful Crow Wing State Forest, where white pines tower above the hardwoods. Plan for a full day on the river, or include an overnight stay at one of two watercraft campsites. Greer Lake Campground is also just a few miles from the river in the state forest.
Explore on shore
At over 33,000 acres, this forest has plenty of trails and recreational opportunities to explore such as: camping, a beach, swimming, boating, fishing, hiking and hunting.
Part of the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, this U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation area offers camping, boating, swimming, picnicking, fishing and playground areas.
DNR regional headquarters
1601 Minnesota Drive, Brainerd, MN 56401
Nearest medical facilities
Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center
523 North Third Street, Brainerd, MN 56401
Cuyuna Regional Medical Center
320 East Main Street, Crosby, MN 56441
The Pine River.
Watch for box culverts and low culverts at the beginning of the Pine River.