50 Years of State Water Trails!

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50 Years of Minnesota State Water Trails

boy kayaking

In 1963, Governor Karl Rolvaag proposed that Minnesota "embark immediately on an all-out program to arouse this sleeping recreational giant - canoeing!"

2013 marked the 50th anniversary of what is now called the Minnesota State Water Trails system, the first and largest Water Trails system in the nation.

Today, there is a Minnesota State Water Trail within about an hour of anywhere in Minnesota!

  • Over 4,500 miles of mapped recreational routes on waterways, managed for canoeing, kayaking, boating and camping.
  • Over 1,400 public water accesses, campsites, portages and rest areas managed by the DNR and numerous local partners.

In 1963...

  • Kodak Camera introduced the Instamatic camera.
  • Beatlemania was just beginning.
  • Gas cost 29 cents per gallon.
  • You could buy a house for an average of $3,160.
  • President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
  • Martin Luther King gave his famous I Have a Dream speech.
  • Michael Jordan and Johnny Depp were born.
  • The push-button telephone was invented.
  • The world population was 3.2 billion, less than half of what it is today.
  • ...and, the Minnesota legislature established the "Canoe and Boating Routes" program with the designation of the Big Fork, Little Fork, St. Croix and Minnesota Rivers, thereby creating the first Water Trails in the nation officially managed for recreation.

Read more about it!

Check out The State of Paddling, from the May-June 2013 issue of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer. Float along on three state water trails, see a slideshow of images from the rustic Big Fork River, and find useful information for planning a trip along any of Minnesota's state water trails.

Read all about the history of Minnesota State Water Trails This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.