Rum River State Water Trail

Rum River

River location mapThe Rum River State Water Trail is a designated Wild and Scenic River with state legislation that preserves and protects its outstanding scenic, recreational, natural, historic and scientific values. Beginning and intermediate canoeists can enjoy moderate flows and few rapids.

The Rum River begins its journey at Mille Lacs Lake and continues 154 miles to its confluence with the Mississippi River. Along the way, it meanders through a thick canopy of maple, oak and ash trees. Be sure to watch for white-tail deer, beavers, songbirds and bald eagles. The river is also a favorite among anglers seeking smallmouth bass, northern pike and walleye.

Water trail segments and maps

Segment 1 - Mille Lacs Lake to Milaca

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About this segment

This segment is narrow, rocky, shallow and clear. Paddlers may need to wade at times. The Rum River Weir, between Shakopee and Onamia lakes, allows for water drawdown in Onamia without affecting Shakopee. This helps with wild rice crops. 

Hazards include turbulent water, pilings, rock weirs and dams. Be sure you know where portages are located. 

Recommended day trip

Wayside Landing to Milaca

  • Put-in location: Wayside Landing Carry-in, river mile 128.7
  • Take-out location: Milaca City Park, river mile 112.5
  • Length: 16.2 river miles

Plan for a full day of paddling as you follow the river's twists and turns past wooded shoreline, farm fields and islands. Portions of this route are shallow and rocky. Use caution when approaching the Old Whitney Log Dam site about halfway through your trip. 

Explore on shore

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, river mile 153

Take a break from paddling with a visit to the state park. Stop at the river access and explore some of the park's 35 miles of wooded hiking trails. Hike 3/4 mile to one of the designated river overlooks; each has a seating area to relax at while looking for varied wildlife.

Nearest medical facility

Mille Lacs Health System, 200 Elm St. N, Onamia
Tel. 320-532-3154

Segment 2 - Milaca to Isanti

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About this segment

This segment winds past heavily wooded shorelines with a wilderness feel. It is wider, deeper and slower than other segments of the Rum River.

Hazards include downed trees, snags and dams. Be sure you know where portages are located. A portion of the river near Princeton has frequent log jams, use caution.

Recommended day trip

Walbo to Cambridge West

  • Put-in location: Walbo Trailer Access, river mile 56.8
  • Take-out location: Cambridge West Park, river mile 41.0
  • Length: 15.8 river miles

Paddle through a wide, winding section of the river. Along the way, you'll pass wooded shores and fields. Shorten the trip by starting or ending at the Hwy 14 carry-in access.

Explore on shore

Becklin Homestead Wildlife Management Area/County Park, river mile 51.6

Enjoy a state managed WMA adjacent to a park managed by Isanti County Parks and Recreation. The WMA offers opportunities for wildlife watching and the county park has a public water access, hiking trail and picnic shelter. This area is closed during special hunts, see website for details.

Nearest medical facility

Fairview Northland Medical Center, 911 Northland Dr., Princeton
Tel. 763-389-1313

Cambridge Medical Center, 701 S. Dellwood St., Cambridge
Tel. 763-689-7700

Segment 3 - Isanti to Mississippi River

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About this segment

This segment is wider and deeper than northern segments. You'll find the kind of broad, flat water that is good for hard paddling or simply letting the current float you along.

Recommended day trip

Martin's Landing to North County Park

  • Put-in location: Martin's Landing Trailer Access, river mile 34.8
  • Take-out location: Rum River North County Park, river mile 23.2
  • Length: 11.6 river miles

Follow the river's slow twists and turns past wooded shorelines. This route takes the average paddler 3.5-5 hours to complete.

Explore on shore

County and regional parks

Several county and regional parks along the river provide an opportunity to stop, stretch your legs, and enjoy a picnic. A few of these parks also offer watercraft campsites, allowing you to plan for a multi-day trip on the river. Check individual county and regional websites for details and fees.

Nearest medical facility

Mercy Hospital, 4050 Coon Rapids Boulevard, Coon Rapids
Tel. 763-236-6000

River character

A number of rocky boulder beds present a challenge to beginning canoeists, although they would mostly be Class I, with a few Class II pitches occurring during high water. Several dams must be portaged and caution should be used to avoid snags and overhanging trees. The river varies in width from 20 to 100 feet. Stream flow typically peaks in mid March, with spring runoff causing greatest flow. Water level is usually sufficient for canoeing throughout the summer.

Landscape

The river passes extensive backwaters and marshes, sandy upland plains, farmland and bottom lands covered with maple, elm and other hardwoods. Small strands of red and white pine near the river's lowest reaches are what remain of the once vast pine forests. Mille Lacs Lake was formed from the last glacial retreat. From the lake the river flows through mostly glacial outwash plain, with geology typical to that of Central Minnesota's glacial topography.

Fish and wildlife

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

Fish

  • Smallmouth bass
  • Northern pike (near the headwaters)
  • Walleye (Princeton to Anoka)

Wildlife

  • White-tailed deer
  • Gray and fox squirrels
  • Rabbits and hares
  • Beavers
  • Minks
  • Muskrats
  • Raccoons

Birds

  • Loons
  • Great blue herons
  • Songbirds
  • Waterfall (nesting areas near the headwaters)

History

The upper river valley has one of the highest concentration of prehistoric sites in Minnesota. Burial mounds, ricing pits, copper tools and other artifacts have been found throughout the area. Early white settlement along the riverbank began during the fur trade and grew quickly as the lumber industry took hold.

Local contact 

DNR Central Region headquarters, 1200 Warner Road, St. Paul, MN
Tel. 651-259-5800

Mille Lacs, Isanti and Anoka counties