Paddling to a wilderness adventure close to home

It’s easy to pitch a tent and enjoy a wilderness-like getaway on campsites along Minnesota’s water trails.

NORTH REDWOOD FALLS — There is a certain ‘’all is right with the world’’ feeling that comes at nightfall after a day of paddling, fishing and setting up camp in the wilderness.
It came with a crescendo of sorts for us. Coyotes began a chorus of yelping just as the stars started to show themselves over a darkening ribbon of river, as if the stage lights were just warming for a performance.
I’ve enjoyed this performance in the north woods plenty of times, and also close to home.
In this case, our wilderness setting was the Minnesota River downstream of North Redwood Falls. An easy hour’s drive and we were enjoying a camping trip very much like a wilderness get-away.
There are primitive campsites like those found in the Boundary Waters Canoe area strung along 33 water routes in Minnesota. The Minnesota River, the North Fork of the Crow and the Mississippi River are among those in our area offering these opportunities.
Minnesota offers what is believed to be the oldest and largest water trail system in the country. It will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year.
On this trip, our party included Erik, Wrede, who is the coordinator for the water trails with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “You don’t have to go to the Boundary Waters to paddle in Minnesota,’’ he said.
To learn more about the water trails and where they are found, check out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. It includes maps showing the locations of access points and campsite.
– Tom Cherveny