By Jim Umhoefer
The Cloquet River is one of the state's most primitive canoe routes. Most of the river flows through the wild lands of the Cloquet Valley State Forest, inspiring a sense of isolation that explorers may have felt. You'll discover its remoteness before pushing off downstream. Few highways cross the river, and you may have to drive 100 miles or more (partially on rough back roads) to pick up canoes. Outfitters are located in Duluth and Virginia.
The Cloquet has two distinct personalities. The upper section from Indian Lake to Island Lake Reservoir, is for experienced canoeists only. Rapids are usually short and are separated by long sections of quiet water. Except for a couple of high-water Class IIIs above Island Lake, the rest of the upper rapids are rated Class II. Each rapids has a portage trail. You could canoe above Indian Lake, though the long boulder-bed rapids (Class I and Class II) are runnable only in high water. The riverbanks above Island Lake are covered with dense stands of red and white pine, fir, spruce, aspen and birch trees. Read more: