Float #109: Lake Itasca

22 Aug

Itasca State Park

F109_LakeItasca

Lake Itasca
Clearwater County, Minnesota
Sunday, August 3
5 Miles

For our vacation this year DW and I headed up north to Minnesota. We’ve never been there before and were looking forward to some new paddling experiences, especially paddling from the headwaters of the Mississippi. It took us 8 hours to drive from St. Louis to Minneapolis, where we caught up with DW’s cousin for a night on the town. The next morning we drove the additional 3.5 hours to Itasca State Park, home of the headwaters of the Mississippi. Upon getting there and finding the campground full, we learned that we had unknowingly arrived during the peak time for vacationing in Minnesota. Fortunately we found other accommodations for the evening and were able to get a campsite the next morning. The park is really nice with plenty of paddling opportunities and is very easy to get around on a bicycle.

Our first evening we decided to paddle around Lake Itasca. We carried our boats from our campsite down to the edge of the lake, which wasn’t too far. The edges of the lake are full of grass and vegetation, but it wasn’t too thick and we paddled through it easily.

Lake Itasca

Paddling through grass

Lake Itasca

Lake Itasca

Lake Itasca

Lake Itasca

The local cruise boat

The waters were pretty calm and there was just a little breeze to kick up a few ripples. You can’t see the campground or any road from the lake, so it is very peaceful and feels remote. We paddled down the East arm of the lake to the visitor center, wandered around in there for a bit and got back on the water just as the sun began to set. There wasn’t anyone else on the water that evening, and the entire time we were in Itasca State Park the lake wasn’t crowded.

Lake Itasca

Lake Itasca

Beautiful sunset on the lake

Lake Itasca

Lake Itasca

The lake was even more calm as it became darker. At points the water was smooth as glass. The colors of the sunset reflecting on the water made for some gorgeous paddling. We saw a few loons and a trumpeter swan as we meandered back to camp.

Everyone told us the mosquitos would be really bad in Minnesota. I really didn’t notice much of a difference in the campground and out on the water, but as soon as you step into the woods it was pretty bad. I don’t think they were much bigger than the ones in Missouri, but they definitely were more numerous. I coated myself in bug spray every hour or two and still got bit. It was enough for DW to use bug spray and he usually doesn’t use it at all!

We arrived back at the campground and debated carrying our boats back to our site. Since we were heading out again in the morning we decided to just tie them up at the bank, which worked out well since everything was still there in the morning. The next day we did a long paddle from the headwaters, which was a really cool experience.

Lake Itasca

DW on the lake at sunset

 

Critter Count: 3 Loons, 1 Trumpeter Swan

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