Date: July 3, 2021; Length: 16.8 miles; Duration: 5 hours 15 min
Planning: The Zumbro River is located in southeastern Minnesota and flows east into the Mississippi River. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has information and maps to several rivers including about 60 miles of the Zumbro. I chose a big bend of about a 17 mile section from highway 7 bridge to the town of Hammond, which passed through the town of Zumbro Falls and only a few bridges.
Paddling: The river was wide and plenty deep enough, with riffles intermittently occurring throughout this section. The current was solid, helping me make good time paddling. The real paddling drag for me had nothing to do with the river itself. This section of the Zumbro is a prime floating river for fourth of July in particular, as I passed by at least a few hundred floaters, making the wide river feel congested. But I get why they float that section of river. Even just floating it, they made decent time, so it’s an ideal choice for paddlers on less popular dates of course.
Observations: The river was very clear, with sand and rock bottoms and boulders common, along with vegetation and islands occurring. Trees typically lined both sides of the river, with bluffs in the distance or right off the bank. Houses were uncommon, while one campground spanned a solid mile of continuous river bank. The only few bridges aside from the put in and takeout occurred around Zumbro Falls. The super clear water showed off endless trout, while the rest of wildlife spotting consisted of a bald eagle, group of geese, and four deer. There was sure an abundance of other people out on the water though, with it being fourth of July weekend.
Reflecting: Take away the endless floaters to maneuver and navigate around and this would have been a favorite of a flat water river trip. The current is amazing and water is super clear, with cool fish spotted all around, while the surroundings remain fairly natural. It makes me want to check out another section of the Zumbro to see if similar experiences are in store. I would also recommend this Zumbro river section to other paddlers, as clearly the word is out on its floating fun alone.