Finally, the current level on the Minnehaha Creek has receded to the point considered safe for travel -- whether by canoe, kayak, inner tube, raft or whatever non-punctured floatable device you've got sitting around the garage. (Spring rains left the creek with a flow rate well above 150 cubic feet per second in May and June, which is the safety threshold recommended by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.)
A family trip down even a short segment of the Minnehaha Creek can be a great way to spend a summer day. Tweens in Edina love rafting from the portage at West 54th Street, where a mini-waterfall gives them a fast start. (If anything, they've been loving the faster current.) For longer trips, the watershed district's Telly Mamayek recommends putting in at Gray's Bay Dam -- the headwaters of the creek in Minnetonka -- or below the Browndale Dam in Edina.
Canoe access and portage locations are available on this map. Unmarked is a nice access point at York Park in Edina, which speeds you into the Minneapolis parkway section of the creek and on your way to the falls.
Canoe outfitters in the Twin Cities include Hoigaards in St. Louis Park, REI in Bloomington and Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis. The U of M has a reasonable rental rate as well. If you're planning a one-way trip -- to avoid fighting the current for half your voyage -- then you'll need to plan a pick-up or a way to get back once you've reached your destination. Minnetonka offers a round-trip canoe rental and shuttle service.
For those who have paddled the creek before, share your stories and tips in the comments. What are your favorite stretches of the creek?
This is the fourth in an occasional series on local, off-beat activities for kids and families: