Sauk River State Water Trail

Sauk River

The Sauk River State Water Trail begins in Lake Osakis in Todd County and flows 126 miles across central Minnesota before joining the Mississippi River. This shallow river passes farmland, residential areas, naturally restored prairie grasslands, swamps and rich hardwood forests. You'll find many parks, river accesses and campsites. Most of the river offers an enjoyable paddling experience for all skill levels.

River locator map


River segments and maps

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

  1. Osakis Lake to County Road 14
  2. County Road 14 to the Mississippi River


A variety of plant life is found along the Sauk River, ranging from naturally restored prairie grasslands to thick hardwood forests. The river starts in flat swamp vegetation with flora common to most Minnesota wetlands. Prairie grasses and flowers are then encountered on the banks and fields above the river. A naturally restored prairie is preserved near Spring Hill County Park. Oaks, elms, silver maples and willows are the most common trees through most of the valley. One of the most interesting sights along the Sauk is an elevated tamarack bog on the north river bank near Rockville, which provides beautiful golden scenery in the fall.

Some of the oldest rocks in the world can be found in the various outcroppings along the river. A few of these rocks have been dated back more than 3 billion years. A geological feature known as a "whaleback" is found in the "Chain of Lakes" area, containing examples of this ancient rock. The whaleback, along with the moraines, are the two prominent glacial features found along the Sauk. The St. Croix moraine is exposed in some areas along the river, and evident in much of the landscape.

Fish and wildlife

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


  • Redhorse
  • Sucker
  • Panfish (Chain of Lakes area)
  • Walleye (Chain of Lakes area and near the Mississippi)
  • Northern pike (Chain of Lakes area and near the Mississippi)


  • White-tailed deer
  • Red squirrels
  • Chipmunks
  • Gray fox
  • Woodchucks
  • Beavers
  • Muskrats
  • Otters
  • Mink


  • Woodpeckers
  • Songbirds
  • Grouse
  • Pheasant
  • Partridge
  • Hawks
  • Bald eagles
  • Great blue herons
  • Owls

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