Edit ModuleShow Tags

Across the Border: Kayaking the Namekagon


Going up to my family's cabin outside Hayward, Wis., is a tradition for Memorial Day. We barbecue, fish, play by the lake, take long walks, and bird watch. This year, we added kayaking the Namekagon River to the list. Last Sunday, nine of us (my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) met up at Hayward Outfitters for a day on the river.

First step, the outfitters helped us decide which kind of kayak would fit each paddler best. I ended up riding in a blue Dagger. We grabbed paddles, life jackets (adults are required to have; kids are required to wear), water bottles, and picnic lunches, and then hopped into the outfitter's cars to shuttle to Cable Landing. We had selected River Trip No. 5, based on the description on the brochure (see below).

Cable Landing to Larsen Landing
"This trip is Jim’s favorite. This stretch of river is very intimate. You make 100 decisions as to which way to go around 100 islands. You paddle through Pacwawong Lake, beautiful and full of wild rice. At the end of the lake is a white water chute that you can run or portage around. This section is class 1-2 moving water. This trip takes 2.5-3.5 hours. Take out on river left before the bridge. Count on 4-5 hours including shuttle time. This is a double shuttle trip so is more expensive. 5 hour max."

Kayaking the Namekagon, Wisconsin  Snapping Turtle, Namekagon River, Wisconsin

spotting a snapping turtle on the namekagon river in wisconsin.
Photos and video By ellie m. bayrd

The water was pretty high due to recent rain (though the weather was great that day) and the current was strong, so we occasionally had to paddle hard to keep out of the sweepers (trees leaning over the water, which can make you capsize). One member of the party demonstrated the perils of getting too close to the sweepers in the first few minutes of the ride. It was a wet beginning to our adventure, but the rest of the ride was a lot of fun.

Along the way, we saw mergansers, bald eagles, tundra swans, and one giant snapping turtle, which we called stegasaurus because it looked so prehistoric (pictured). The river took us around islands, through rapids, and into calm eddies. The rapids after our picnic lunch was a highlight. We took turns splashing our way through the brief rapids (see my turn in the video below)--even my cousin's four-year-old in the tandem kayak enjoyed the rapids.

After nearly four hours on the river, our arms were tired and we pulled up to Larsen Landing, where the outfitters were poised to shuttle us back. It was a great family adventure.

Hayward Outfitters has a number of trip options for paddlers of different skills and interests (by canoe or kayak). Besides trips like ours, Hayward Outfitters organizes team building adventures and treasure hunts, rents stand up paddleboards, and has a mini golf course on site, among other things. Hayward Outfitters is located right by the giant musky and the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum in Hayward.

For more about Hayward, read our Journeys post about the American Birkebeiner, "Winter's Playground" from Feb. 2011 Minnesota Monthly or the Ultimate Up North Guide from June 2010 Minnesota Monthly.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

InterContinental Hotel Opens at MSP Airport

New lodging, restaurants, spa, gym, and skyway update the MSP Airport experience

Plan a Trip to Roanoke, Virginia

This East Coast visit comes with history, a burgeoning craft beer scene, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Appalachian Trail, and more

Cannon Falls Wine & Art Fest

Taste Minnesota wines and ciders, browse through local art vendors, and eat delicious food at Cannon Falls Wine & Art Fest, July 21-22

Day Trip to Taylors Falls

A Taylors Falls day trip made up of beautiful river views and a classic malt shop.

Record Store on Wheels

Like a food truck, but for music—and debuting this Sunday at Open Streets Minneapolis

Green Thumb Gardens

The 2018 Hennepin County Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour flaunts its foliage July 14

Best Caves of Minnesota

Explore Minnesota’s man-made and natural curiosities this summer

Amble Over to Afton

While you’re in Afton for Selma’s, stay a while and check out the state parks, historic buildings, quaint downtown, and more

Take a Trip for (Frozen) Treats

Grab a scoop from the state’s oldest ice cream shop in Afton: Selma’s Ice Cream Parlour

Journeys: A Minnesotan’s Happy Place

Time wasted at the lake is time well spent

Journeys: The Start of Adventure

To prep for wilderness canoe trips, Les Voyageurs brings campers out on the Mississippi River

Top 5 Instagram Spots Along the Mississippi River

Bluffs, hiking trails, and waterfalls make for beautiful summer photos

Summer Sunburn Solutions

Six ways to beat the burn

Brews and Views at the Hopped Up Caribou Festival

There's no better place to tie the knot than at a craft beer festival, and if you're not into that, you can cliff climb, too
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags