Brainerd Minnesota canoe trip on the Mississippi River from Brainerd to the Crow Wing State Park.

Canoeing – Brainerd to Crow Wing State Park

Time: 3 hours



With hot summer weather set in and plenty of sunshine it is a great time to explore the rivers around the Brainerd Lakes area by canoe or Kayak. Several beautiful routes await exploration including the Pine River, Gull River, Crow Wing River, and of course the mighty Mississippi River. My most recent adventure took me from Brainerd to the Crow Wing State Park which is a nice 2.5-3 hour trip on a very scenic portion of the river.

Our launch point was Kiwanis Park in Brainerd which offers a basic canoe landing with stairs going down to the water. The park has a play area and restrooms available. Heading downstream the trip offers scenic beauty with only a moderate amount of houses once you get out of the city. This stretch of the river hosts many bird species including a variety of ducks, geese, loons, and eagles in addition to many different song birds. It is also a popular multi species fishery with walleye, musky, northern pike, and smallmouth bass just to name a few. On this particular trip we were also greeted by a young leatherback turtle that was curious about our canoe. Throughout the trip you will pass by a variety of islands in the river some of which have sandy areas to pull onto for swimming or a picnic lunch.

This is a very gentle current at normal water levels with no rapids and only a few logs poking up so it is a great stretch of river for beginners or families who want a stress free experience. This also makes it a great stretch of river for anyone who wants to take their time and take in the beauty of this magnificent river.

About an hour or so in to the trip we passed the Riverview Park in Baxter which has a place to pull up the canoe and an outhouse for those that forgot to go before heading out. I passed by this and made only one stop which was at the highway 371 bridge just outside the Crow Wing State Park. This stop was more for my young partner (my dog Dozer) who had never been in a canoe before and had to stretch his legs. This is a nice place to stop with an easy place to get the canoe onto the bank. After a short stretch we headed back down the river to our final destination. In the park you will also find a campsite on the west bank of the river which is accessible by boat only for those that want to spend the night. You can also stay at the park once you’re done or simply shuttle back to Brainerd/Baxter and enjoy one of the many hotels and waterparks.

The boat landing is easy to spot well before you get there and it is a nice landing with a dock so you can easily get your vehicle right down to the river to load up. For those that need someone to come get them there are several companies that offer canoe shuttle & rental service including Easy Riders in Brainerd or Cycle Path Paddle and Water Wolverine Outfitting both of which are in Crosby Minnesota but will deliver to the Brainerd area. You can rent their equipment or they will help get you and your equipment back. Be sure to give them at least ten days’ notice if possible.

There are many ways to enjoy the scenic Brainerd area however a canoe or kayak seem to relax the mind, body, and soul while of course helping to keep you fit. Make the Brainerd Lakes Area your next Minnesota canoeing or kayaking destination.