River Conditions: Flow and water level
Check online at https://tinyurl.com/shrwd-fertile
Water levels are key in assessing what to expect on a paddle trip on the Sand Hill River. Real-time flow and water levels are available on-line from a convenient MnDNR gaging station located just downstream of Fertile, at https://tinyurl.com/shrwd-fertile. In general, when water flow is below 30 cubic feet/second (cfs), you’ll be scraping bottom and hitting rocks—which will require getting out and dragging through some areas. This is generally not a problem during the warmer summer months, but will take longer and it’s hard on boats and paddles. Flows above 250 cfs can pose dangerous conditions for inexperienced paddlers due to potential tree snags—especially when dealing with colder water early and late in the year.
Fertile Paddling Reaches
(Time estimates based on 2mph average speed)
Reach 1: Township Road (Erickson’s) to Polk Co Rd 1. 2.8 miles~1 Hr 25 min. Upstream access from Twp Rd on downstream west side of river. Get off at bridge on Polk Co. 1 on east (left) side of river. Watch for fences across river in this reach.
Reach 2: Polk CoRd 1 to MN Hwy 32. 1.9 miles~1 Hr. Riffle/rapids in this reach rocky at low water. Passes under Agassiz Recreation Trail and old bridge—also passes old Fertile mill site and site of oxcart trail river crossing.
Reach 3: MN Hwy 32 to Nature Center Rd (Summit Ave SW). 1.3 miles~40 min. Easiest and shortest reach of river. Good beginner’s reach. At end go through culverts and come off at shore immediately downstream of culverts on west (left) side—parking nearby.
Reach 4: Nature Center Rd (Summit Ave SW) to West Mill Rd. 2 miles~1 Hr. Rockiest reach of river at low flows, esp. towards end of reach. At end go through culverts and come off at landing area just downstream on west (left) side at landing by large parking next to river. Other take-out options also.
Click the link below for a printable map.