Would you do more paddling if you needed to do less shuttling? Is biking another of your chosen silent sports? If so, you can combine your love for paddling and biking on the same excursion by biking back to the put-in on a state trail. There’s no need to have motor vehicles at the put-in and the take-out and no need to hire a shuttle driver. Just leave your bike or bikes at the take-out, and ride back on a scenic trail with no worries about hills or cars and trucks coming up behind you.
Many Midwest railroads were constructed in river valleys to connect farmers and rural towns to commercial centers. Many of those railroad lines have been abandoned and converted to rail trails. So now many areas of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan are blessed with rail-trails that follow stretches of navigable river.
That opens up the possibility of canoe-bike trips ranging from a few hours to a full day, to overnight and even multi-day adventures, including opportunities for riverside camping.
One of the finest places to try a paddle-pedal trip is the Root River in southeastern Minnesota bluff country near Rochester. This beautiful river is great fun with a brisk current and some easy rapids at usual water levels. The Root River State Trail, on the 1870 Southern Minnesota Railroad bed, follows the river closely for most of a 44-mile stretch, passing several spots where the river can be accessed. One can also paddle the South Branch alongside the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail.
The entirety of Dave Hennings account of his trip on and along the Root River – the first in a series of articles on paddle-pedal trips he’s taken – appears in the August 2014 print edition of Silent Sports magazine. To order a copy, call 888-706-4045. Or subscribe online here and never miss another issue.