Canoe & Kayak

Can’t wait to dip your paddle into a northern Minnesota lake? We’ve got just the lakes for you – some are hundreds of feet deep and filled with glacial spring water. They used to be mine pits, created over 140 years of mining iron ore, and now they’ve been reclaimed by nature and used for recreation.

Mine Pit Lakes

Experience kayaking or canoeing on a mine lake at Redhead Mountain Bike Park in Chisholm, Buhl or Judson pits in Buhl, Lake Ore-Be-Gone in Gilbert, Mine Lake in Biwabik, or St James Pit in Aurora.

The former Godfrey Mine is encircled with mountain bike trails and is over 200 feet deep. The water is clear and cool, and the walls of this mine pit tower above you in places. Nearby Minnesota Discovery Center serves as the trailhead for the Redhead Mountain Bike Park, as well as rental services.

Buhl’s mine pits are smaller and surrounded by trees. The water is just as clear, and the serenity just as real.

Lake Ore-Be-Gone in Gilbert is a well-developed recreation area on the Mesabi Trail and ATV trails. A nearby campground serves visitors, as does the beach and pavilion. This lake is deep and clear, and holds a few surprises at the bottom that scuba divers love to explore.

In Aurora, the St James Mine Pit is rimmed by a paved trail and offers great views of a former mining town.

You can now rent canoes and kayaks at Minnesota Discovery Center for use at the Redhead mine pit, and rent self-serve, inflatable stand-up paddleboards in Eveleth.

Check out this Lake Access Map from the Minnesota DNR for more information on where to launch your watercraft.

Other Area Lakes

If it’s a regular old lake you’re looking for (as opposed to a reclaimed iron mine lake), there’s Carey Lake in Hibbing, West Two Rivers Reservoir in Mountain Iron, Ely Lake in Eveleth, or Whitewater and Colby Lakes in Hoyt Lakes. Find camping on many of these lakes. You’ll also find boat traffic is low and fishing can be good!

Stay Safe!

Be sure to register your watercraft. Here’s a link for more information on licensing and fees. Also, know the rules for water safety. Here’s a link to Minnesota’s watercraft rules and regulations.