Minneapolis Chain of Lakes

Explore the City of Lakes by Voyageur Canoe

Wilderness Inquiry staff prepare two canoes on the beach for a fun day on the Chain of Lakes.Enjoy paddling and exploring the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis. Receive basic canoe safety and paddling instruction before your group hits the water in Wilderness Inquiry's 24 foot Voyageur boats. Paddle from lagoon to lagoon learning about native plants and animals. Stop for lunch on the beach, maybe take a quick dip in the lake, and play games with your friends before you paddle back to the take-out location to head home.

Sample Itinerary

Meet your group at the designated meeting spot and time for a brief introduction to your day and to your guides.

At Thomas Beach, you will receive basic canoe instruction as well as safety tips about loading boats and paddling the Lakes. You'll enjoy landscaped ponds and wild areas planted with native flowers and grasses as well as the new bridge and walking paths added to Lake Calhoun's ponds.

Paddling north, you will enter the man-made lagoon that joins the Chain of Lakes together. You will first paddle from Lake Calhoun into Lake of the Isles. This lake was made when the swampy wetlands were dredged in the early 1900's. Native grasses have been planted in an effort to increase water clarity and to reduce the number of Canada Geese inhabiting the area. Next you will enter a second set of lagoons that forms the link to Cedar Lake.

Cedar Lake is a spring fed lake and has had a dramatic increase of water clarity in recent years. Native wetlands have been restored in what is now known as “Cedar Meadows.” Up until 1999, this area was covered by baseball and football fields. From Cedar, you may also enter Brownie Lake, the final “link” in the Chain of Lakes.

Returning back along your initial route, you will take the canoes out of the water back at Thomas Beach and gather to share reflections on the day.

Return home or explore the area.

Travel, Terrain, Etc...



A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
The landscapes of the Twin Cities metropolitan area have been shaped over time by the elements that define our region: snow and water. Everywhere you look in Minnesota there is evidence of our glacial past. Since the glaciers moved onward, humans have taken over and directed the modern history of the land.

Evidence suggests that people have lived in the region for almost 12,000 years. Throughout this history, the major rivers in the area have served for navigation, and travel, and for fishing and hunting. The lakes and prairies that dominate the oak savanna ecosystems of southern and central Minnesota have also offered excellent fishing and hunting.

Eventually, these regions offered excellent farming conditions to the people of the area as well. All of these conditions came together creating the potential to harness the power of the Mississippi River for energy and shipping in the 19th century. This resulted in a milling boom in the in the Twin Cities area. The industrial growth spurred a population boom and the need to preserve open spaces became apparent. Many urban areas across our nation have struggled to scrape together park spaces, which are few and far between. Long ago, residents of the Twin Cities began planning for the future, and we have them to thank for the wonderful park systems alive today.

For more information, visit these links:

Three Rivers Park District

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Metropolitan Council

2017 DatesFeeRegistration
6/17/17  $45 ($30 Youth)Register Now

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Quick Trip Facts:

  • Wilderness Inquiry Staff
  • 24-foot Cedar-Strip Voyageur Canoes
  • Life jacket
  • Adaptive gear as needed
Register Now!
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