Straight River State Water Trail

Kayakers paddle past sandstone bluffs on the Straight River


River locator mapThe Straight River winds through farmland bordered by trees, meandering approximately 30 miles north from Owatonna to Faribault, where it joins the Cannon River. Along its path it varies from 30 to 80 feet wide and one to four feet deep.

Mild rapids, fast water and rocky, narrow channels make canoeing some stretches a challenge. There is one area of difficult rapids at Clinton Falls that should be portaged, and another set of smaller rapids near Faribault. There are dams along the river - be sure you know where they are.

Local contacts

Rice Lake Area Office, 8485 Rose Street, Owatonna, MN 55060

Nearest medical facility

Owatonna Hospital, 2250 NW 26th Street, Owatonna, MN 55060


For the most part, the Straight River is a narrow, intimate stream beneath a leafy canopy. Fields, pastures and farm buildings are screened from the river by a narrow strip of elm, willow, poplar and maple trees. Erosion is common along the low grassy banks.

Fish and wildlife

Fish caught in this river include northern pike, crappies, smallmouth bass and carp. Read the MN Department of Health's fish consumption advisory before eating fish from a Minnesota river or lake.

Wildlife includes deer, rabbits, squirrels and other small mammals. Songbirds and waterfowl are especially plentiful during spring and fall migrations.


Straight may seem an inappropriate name for this twisting, turning stream. The river's name is actually a loose translation of "Owatonna," a Dakota Indian word meaning morally strong traders. Faribault was named for its founder, fur trader Alexander Faribault, who established a trading post here in 1828. In the 1820s Minnesota was dotted with fur trading posts, most controlled by the American Fur Company. Their business was considerable. In a single year Faribault's trade included 1,100 minks, 2,050 pounds of deerskins and 39,080 muskrats. During the 19th century the Straight River area was an important milling center. The Clinton Mills in Clinton Falls ground flour and feed for eight counties before being destroyed by fire in 1896. The Walcott Mills (river mile 9.9), which burned down in 1895, is now marked only by the flume where the wheel turned.

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