Tamara Nugteren, owner of Kayak the Creek, runs a kayak rental business on Minnehaha Creek that gives you the chance to see your hometown from a whole new perspective. “People are blown away once they’re on the creek,” Nugteren says. “The water is amazingly clean and clear, and you see all the familiar landmarks of Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Edina and Minneapolis—but from the creek. So, they’re the same, but somehow really different, too.”
Nugteren offers a few different trips. She schedules them based on time, not distance. Trips are all about 2.5 to 3 hours, and the amount of creek that you paddle in that time varies depending on how fast the water is flowing. She puts you in and then meets you at the end of your trip to get you out. Kayak the Creek supplies everything you need … including a waterproof bag for your phone. Not all sections are available for kayaking all year, and each one has its own challenges and attractions. “They’re all great,” she says. “You’ll want to come back and try them all.”
What to Know
“The Minnetonka section starts at Grays Bay Dam in serene slow waters where you see nothing but cattails and birds. It then switches over to a quick narrow creek that runs behind businesses, past backyards and through marshlands. This section can have surprising rapids if the water is high. One of my favorite things is in this section. It’s silly, but fun. One creekside neighbor hung a bell above the creek last year that kayakers can ring with their paddles as they go by. Thank you! We love it!”
“The St. Louis Park section starts by taking you under the low-slung Highway 100 and immediately spills you out into a quiet neighborhood. I feel like the [St. Louis Park] section has the most variety on the creek. You see a lot of beautiful backyards, but there are also areas of marshlands and some rapids. Near Methodist Hospital, you paddle along walking trails and spill out into Meadowbrook Golf Course and Lake, where there was a loon family living all last season.”
“In the last section of the creek, you paddle through Edina and Minneapolis. In Edina, you stay in neighborhoods the whole way in a narrow and shallow section. The homes are gorgeous, and it’s tree covered for much of the way. Last season, the city of Edina removed a portage and redesigned Arden Park along this stretch, making the creek more accessible. They did a beautiful job. Once you pass into Minneapolis, the city owns the creekside property, and you’ll be paddling along walking and biking trails. It’s really amazing to kayak under [Highway] 35W. Who knew there were rapids below? The creek then brings you through another golf course—Hiawatha Golf Course—before spitting you out into Lake Hiawatha. You can paddle all the way to just before Minnehaha Falls in a normal season. Now bridge construction impedes that.”
Kayaking trips are a great way to spend time with older teenagers. (You must be at least 12 years old to go on a trip and 18 to rent a kayak.) It gets the whole family out doing something that everyone is interested in. “People tell me that they’ve lived near Minnehaha Creek for years and never realized that it was so amazing,” Nugteren says. “I mean, you have this beautiful creek running right through the heart of a major urban area. It’s a treasure.”
Information regarding COVID-19 protocols is available at kayakthecreek.com.