An empty canoe on the river with fishing gear and a hat, tied to shore

The St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers are known for their quiet water canoeing. To help you plan a canoe trip; river descriptions and recommended paddles are provided for both the St. Croix and Namekagon. There are also paddling guides for the Namekagon River, the Upper and Lower St. Croix which document the water features by rivermile.



Paddling on the Namekagon and St. Croix is relatively low difficulty. In normal conditions, both rivers are at most Class I (moving water with a few riffles and small waves and few or no obstructions), but this can change in times of heavy rainfall.

The average speed for the St. Croix is one mile per hour. The average speed for the Namekagon is two miles per hour. Specific stretches of the river can be slower or faster. Flowages have little if any current. Experienced canoeists can travel faster by reading the river and using paddling skills, while new canoeists are not as efficient. The wider portions of the river are most effected by wind. A strong upstream wind can mean waves and slower progression.

Outfitters & Shuttles: If you don't have your own canoe or need a shuttle, commercial outfitters can supply them. A list is available, choose an outfitter close to where you plan to canoe.

Campsites: There are primitive campsites along the riverway, see camping for more information.

Portages: Dams are located at Hayward (left shore), Trego (right shore) and St. Croix Falls (right shore), this requires your canoe and gear to be removed from the water and carried past the dams. Portages are also available at the site of three historic logging dams that have been partially removed. Pacwawong, Phipps and Coppermine should be scouted before attempting to run, if you choose not to portage them. Depending on water conditions these dam sites can be hazardous.

Canoeing Plans:
It is a good idea to provide someone with your planned put-in and take-out locations, expected length of trip and number in party. They can then contact authorities if you are overdue. The establishment of a late return phone number is an important way to inform others of your location. Cell phone signals are weak or non-existent along much of these two rivers.

If you would like to read some personal accounts of canoe trips read on...


Canoe Safety Tips

  • Exposure to cool air or cold water can lead to hypothermia, even when temperatures are well above freezing. Dress appropriately and bring spare clothes in case you get wet.
    Kneel in the bottom of the canoe while in areas of rough water for stability.
  • Standing and sudden sideways shifts can make the canoe unstable.
  • If you fall out of a canoe keep your head upstream, feet downstream, kick and back paddle to control your movement if you can't stand up. Your canoe floats, so you can also hang onto it, remember to stay on the upstream side.
  • Water riffles mean that rocks lie close to the surface. Follow the smooth water shaped like a "V" pointing down stream.
  • Keep the front or bow of the canoe headed downstream with the current or headed into boat wakes.
  • When leaving vehicles at landings, remove or hide valuables as break-ins have occurred in the past.

A brochure is available on canoe safety.


Protect the River

  • Sandbanks are erodable and provide nesting habitat for turtles. Please stay off them.
  • Mussels are protected because of endangered species. Please do not remove them from the river.
  • Primitive toilets are available at campsites and landings. If toilets are not available, bury human waste at least 6 inches deep and at least 100 feet from the river.
  • Bring a trash bag to carry out all trash. Glass beverage containers are prohibited at the Riverway.
  • Do not damage live trees. Dead and down wood may be used for firewood.

Did You Know?