SUP Summer Escape Minneapolis

Molly O'Connor
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It is no secret that stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has become very popular in the last decade. Though the art of SUP has been around for thousands of years, originating in different parts of the world, it’s only recently become one of the most popular water sports in the United States. It should come as no surprise that when a new water sport is introduced in the Twin Cities it is welcomed with open arms. How better to enjoy Minnesota’s serene lakes and sleepy creeks than by water craft? So, in 2010, when rumors of boards that you can stand up on and paddle reached the Minneapolis-St.Paul’s lake shores, it didn’t take long for the Twin Cities to catch on.

To learn more about this sport or for in-depth tutorials on SUP, check out BIC SUP’s How To SUP Tips. If you want to get out yourself, visit one of your local outdoor stores—see our recommended list of stores in your area—to find out where to go and how to get geared up.

To start you off, here’s a guide to three of the Twin Cities’ prime SUP destinations and the best spots for learning more about the sport.

Chain of Lakes

For beginners, it is best to start your SUP experience on calm water far from any obstacles, such as rocks, buoys, or boats. One of the best places to go as a beginner in Minneapolis is Uptown’s 13-mile Chain of Lakes loop circuit . With four lakes (Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, and Brownie Lake)to see, all of which have their own personality and charm, and a rental outfitter directly on the beach, there’s no better place to take an afternoon to learn how to SUP. Unless it is a blustery day, the lakes offer its paddlers calm, flat water.

Found on the beach, adjacent to Lake Calhoun’s Tin Fish Restaurant, Wheel Fun Rentals offers a paddle board rate of $20 an hour. Though it may seem expensive, you are paying for the convenience, as well as the personal flotation device (PFD), paddle, and safety 101 training. If you have a car with a roof rack, consider renting fromMidwest Mountaineering. They have BIC Sport boards available for a daily rate of $30 for the first day and $15 for each additional day. They rent out the BIC Sport Ace Tec Wing, which is a 12’ 6” board. Mostly meant for touring, this board has great tracking and is pretty fast. It’s a little narrow, compared to most beginner boards, but it is still very accessible to beginner paddlers.

Not only is the Chain of Lakes loop a great place for beginners, but its 13 miles of shoreline also offers well-seasoned paddlers ample opportunity to work on their speed and endurance. It also provides some fantastic views of the Minneapolis skyline, quiet canals to maneuver through, and secluded areas in which to get lost.

If you’re confident in your ability to standup paddle board and want a more intense workout, consider combining paddle boarding with yoga. Paddlesculpt and Shed Fitness Studio are the two local fitness studios that offer paddle board yoga classes, all of which occur on Lake Calhoun.

Lake Nokomis

A little less traveled than the Chain of Lakes and off the beaten path is Lake Nokomis in south Minneapolis. Well-known for its large sandy beach, often full of children laughing and the smells of people grilling nearby, it’s a no-brainer that this quiet lake would make prime SUP territory. Usually there is less boat traffic on Lake Nokomis, which gives its stand up paddle boarders time to reflect and relax. Don’t be surprised to find yourself in the center of the lake, wanting to lie down, soak up some sun, and watch the clouds pass overhead.

Also located at Lake Nokomis is the Annual BIC SUP One Design Challenge. Hosted by Midwest Mountaineering, this race offers paddle boarders a friendly, yet competitive atmosphere for paddlers of all skill levels and all ages. For only $15, participants have the chance to test out their technique against other paddle boarders from all over the Twin Cities. Midwest Mountaineering provides six BIC Sport boards, which means the challenge is generally split up into various heats. Their goal for each race is to get paddlers on the water as much as possible for maximum fun. If you have never paddle boarded, then don’t be deterred by the competitive atmosphere. It is not unheard of for first-time paddlers to participate and even place.

Make sure to keep your Wednesday evenings open for this summer. The BIC SUP One Design Challenge will happen June 24, July 8, July 22, and August 5 starting at 5:30 p.m. and going to 7:30 p.m. Make sure to arrive a little early in order to have time to sign waivers. To register, visit Midwest Mountaineering’s store or call the store at (612) 339-3433.

Mississippi River

For a change of pace, instead of treading lake water, why not consider paddling in the Mississippi River Valley. One way to see Minneapolis-St. Paul from a whole new perspective is by paddle boarding down the Mississippi River . There are several access points all along the river, giving paddlers multiple put-in options, making it easy to tailor your own trip.

A popular put-in is at Hidden Falls Park. Just across the river from Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Falls Park, Hidden Falls Park offers paddle boarders a calm and forgiving ride on the mighty Mississippi. Though the Mississippi is generally a calm river, it’s a good idea to check the water levels to make sure they are at a comfortable speed for your skill level.

For an easy in-and-out, paddling upstream from Hidden Falls Park to the Lock and Dam No. 1 is a fun paddle for all skill levels. It also makes transportation a piece of cake since it’s an in-and-out trip. There is nothing better than getting an excellent workout while also getting awe inspiring views of the bluff-lined river valley. It’s important to note that Stand Up Paddling on river ways, especially large ones like the Mississippi, can be dangerous. Knowing how to swim is necessary and make sure to bring a PFD. Also, consider wearing a board leash, so to not lose your board if you happen to fall off.

If you don’t want to worry about reserving paddle boards and planning your route, consider going through StandUp MN. This local organization has been leading Mississippi River paddle board tours since 2011 and has received raving reviews. Ranging from a guided solo trip for $42.50/hr to a group paddle with friends for 24.50/hr, StandUp MN is a great way to get out on the river in a totally different way.

Also, thanks to the local paddling community and StandUp MN, there is Paddle Taxi, which is a free, seasonal shuttle service to get paddlers and their watercraft on the Mississippi River. So if you need a lift to a put-in, consider calling Paddle Taxi.

There are so many more waterways to explore in the Twin Cities and thanks to SUP, there are even more ways to explore and experience Minnesota’s abundant lakes and rivers.

Additional Resources

Midwest Mountaineering , 309 Cedar Ave South, Minneapolis (612) 339-3433

This is a great spot to check out boards for sale andto learn which one is best for you. They also have rentals so you can try before you buy.

The House, 200 S Owasso Blvd E, St. Paul

Get all your SUP gear here! They have every kind of paddle board imagineable here, so be sure to check them out.

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