You could say paddling is a passion of mine. As a young girl my sister and I used to paddle canoes along the shores of Bass Lake. Feeling the sun on our shoulders and sand between our toes. As a teen, camping with the family on lakes like Northstar and Clubhouse where being on the water was like being part of nature. Honeymooning in the Boundary Waters. Girlfriend trips in kayaks just because we could. Dipping the paddle, as I answered all the questions my two year old son had about fish, turtles, lily pads, and frogs. The first time stand up paddle boarding, truly like walking on water! Oh the memories and the joy of knowing there will be more to come. When you feel this happy doing something, you want to share it.
That is the premise behind Paddle Hoppers our little paddle shop on the Mississippi River in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. We want to share the joy of paddling. Paddling is a sport that everyone can do, young and old alike. You can do it it alone, with a partner or pet, or in a group. You can do it for an hour, a day, or even a week. You can paddle canoes, kayaks, or SUPs. You can paddle out for fun or to bring back dinner. There is no limit to where you can go or what you’ll see, and with 1084 lakes just in Itasca County you don’t have to go far. Paddle Hoppers offer kayaks, canoes, and standup paddle boards that are ready to get you out on the water.
Our site is located right on the gorgeous shores of the Mississippi River. If you haven’t paddled the river between the Pokegama dam and Blandin dam you’ll be surprised at how wild and beautiful it is. Accessibility of the river can be found at Paddle Hoppers shop on County Rd 63 in Grand Rapids. From the moment you put in you will experience the blue green water slapping against the sandy and slightly rocky shorelines that are studded with deciduous and pine trees. As you paddle your way along the river in either direction you will see an abundance of Minnesota wildlife like loons, ducks and eagles.
As you look down in parts of the river you will be able to see 20+ feet down and experience a wide variety of fish species. With a Minnesota Fishing License you can even cast a line. You will go under several bridge structures; some operational and some abandoned railroad bridge. Lots of Minnesota birds have established homes along these structures, as well as the native bats. As you paddle east towards Grand Rapids you will remove yourself from the Hwy 2 traffic and you will notice some backwaters that will take you to a serene natural setting along the banks of the Forest History Center.
You can paddle for hours exploring this section of the Mississippi River. As you paddle further you will come upon a more industrial section of the river, and home to the UPM Blandin Paper Company. Blandin is a world paper producer and a major employer to the area. As you look down in the water and off to the shoreline you will notice remains of logging heritage and a time gone by when they floated logs down the river. Pack a lunch because around this area you will find a couple of spots to pull out of the water and grab a bite. Sylvan Bay and Izaac Walton Park have boat access, picnic tables, benches and a fishing pier. You can download the Canoe Maps of this section on Visit Grand Rapids website.
Paddle Hoppers offer one, two, and four hour rentals right from their shop or you can choose to take rentals off site for a day or multiple days to use on the wonderful area lakes and rivers in the Grand Rapids, Minnesota area. They offer free maps to help you find the perfect access spots. They sell numerous brands of kayaks and standup paddle boards, Wenonah canoes and all kinds of other paddling gear. Not sure what suits you? They can offer friendly experienced advice and with their try before you buy option they can find the perfect paddling craft for you. Paddle Hoppers, more than a store. They are available to help you start or continue what will hopefully be a lifetime of happy paddling memories.
Come to Grand Rapids, Minnesota to experience paddling on the Mississippi River. For more information about the Grand Rapids, Minnesota area check out Visit Grand Rapids. You can download or request a Grand Rapids Visitor Guide to be mailed to you.