By Jim Umhoefer
St. Louis County. 39 miles, from Vermilion Dam to Crane Lake
The scenic Vermilion River alternates from slow-moving water to rapids with steep drops. Experienced paddlers will need decked canoes or kayaks for some of the pitches; High Falls, 4 miles upstream from Crane Lake, must be portaged by all. The river is a good route for expert canoeists as well as novices who are careful to portage around rapids.
Because much of its flow comes from Vermilion Lake, the river rises and falls slowly and can be canoed as late as October. When the U.S. Geological Survey gauge below the Vermilion Dam reads above 4 feet, then most of the rapids are runnable. Heavy rains swell the tributaries enough that the middle and lower rapids can be attempted even when the gauge reading is low. Read more: