Kayaking Mississippi River Headwaters

Pokegama Dam Core of Engineers Campground

Grand Rapids, MN • 3 nights at site #17

Pokegama COE boat launch right next to the dam!

Dam is to the left and boat launch to the right. Obliviously a little used boat launch. It was a little unnerving for me launching and coming back in so close to a dam. The current was pretty swift unless you stuck close to the side.

Entrance to Jay Gould Lake with power plant in the background
Almost back!

We paddled a total of 7.5 miles with a goal of getting to Jay Gould Lake. We got to the entrance but didn’t go much further since this was going to be a three hour paddle. We paddled upstream on the way out which made the way back much quicker. We saw two otters hanging out on a dilapidated dock on the way out. Of course, they scurried into the water as we got closer

When we bike, hike, or kayak we do it for exercise but also for the enjoyment of observing nature. Today, kayaking we saw osprey, king fishers, a couple of bald eagles, and four otters. There was no boat traffic and we were only lightly sprinkled on. What a great day!

Headed back we saw two otters on the bank and then all the sudden one came up about 20 feet in front Dave’s kayak. The otter pulled himself as far out of the water as he could and chuffed at Dave. Dave chuffed back. This went on for a while and then finally the otter went under water and showed up on the shore, looked over at us and chuffed again. It was hilarious! Dave felt like he was having a conversation with this otter. We just sat and laughed before heading back down the river.

Tioga Beach & Picnic Area on Pokegama Lake
Bike/Hiking paths across the dam from Pokegama COE

We biked from the campground across the dam and into these great wooded trails. This is our favorite kind of riding with trees and nature all around. From this ride we crossed the road and got onto the paved Tioga Bike Trail which ended at the Pokegama Lake. Today ended up being the clearest, prettiest day in a long while with lots of kids and adults enjoying the lake beach.

Pokegama Dam COE • Noisiest EVER!

Some of our favorite campgrounds are Core of Engineer. We usually feel pretty confident when booking them that the site and the campground will be great. Pokegama is a beautiful campground and campsite but right behind those trees is a major highway! Even closer than the highway is a train track. Trains would blow their whistle right at the campground. Love the campground here, hate the road noise!

Our next stop is Buffalo River State Park in Glyndon MN.

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