The Little Sioux River is a slow (gradient of about 2 ft/mile) river that winds through glacial hills and plains from near the Minnesota/Iowa border to its mouth at the Missouri River near the town of Little Sioux. This river drains the largest watershed of any tributary of the Missouri River in Iowa. In fact, many of the Little Sioux River's tributaries, such as Waterman Creek and Mill Creek, are also fun streams to paddle when water levels permit it.
The Inkpaduta Canoe Trail on the Little Sioux runs from Spencer, in Clay County, Iowa, to Smithland, in southern Woodbury County. This span of river is approximately 134 miles in length. The trail area is characterized by safe, convenient public access areas in each county. Some public accesses include camping and restroom facilities, concrete or gravel boat ramps and walking trails.
Within Cherokee County, the Little Sioux River strikes a scenic pose, meandering through a valley rich in historic and natural resources. Native American villages hidden by time, abandoned homestead sites, virgin prairies and rich woodlands line the river banks, along with productive cropland and working pastures
The Cherokee County Conservation Board maintains 12 river access areas from the northern county border to the southern. These various access points permit paddlers to experience a relaxing 1-4 hour float or to escape for a camping and floating adventure of over 3 or more days.
The river is ever-changing, as it winds through shifting sand, soil and gravel deposits left behind by ice age glaciers. Sandbars are littered with mussel shells, modern and petrified bones, fossils, polished stones, ancient shark teeth and the tracks of elusive river otters and bobcats. Whitetail deer, wood ducks, great blue herons and soft-shelled turtles are common sights.
Even during low-water conditions, the Little Sioux is generally navigable by kayak or canoe. High water warrants caution and perhaps a voluntary delay to wait for safer conditions. Fallen trees occasionally bar the way, and depth varies from too shallow to float to 8 ft. deep. This slow river is a safe river, however, with a few dangerous obstacles. An open mind to adventure is the only requirement beyond life preservers and paddles.
Link to IDNR Expedition and Fishing Guide For the Little Sioux and Mill Creek (PDF)
|Area||Canoe||Boat||Highbank||Sandbar||River Miles to Next Area|
|Nelson||x||x||1.2 Miles to Martins|
|Martins||x||Rock/Sand||x||3.4 Miles to Barnes|
5.7 Miles to Sue Jordahl
6.7 Miles to Westcott Park
|Mouth of Mill Creek
(Mill Creek Bridge .5 miles upstream)
|Sue Jordahl||2.0 Miles To Westcott Park|
|Westcott park (Cherokee)||x||Concrete||6.5 Miles to Red Tail Ridge|
|Red Tail Ridge||x||x||x||2.9 Miles to Silver Sioux|
|Silver Sioux||x||Concrete||1.4 Miles to Pearse|
|Pearse Access||x||Rock/Sand||3.0 Miles to Quimby Bridge|
|Quimby Bridge (L51/River Road)||x||x||3.8 Miles to Stieneke|
|Stieneke||x||Rock/Sand||x||6.5 Miles to Ranney Knob|
|Ranney Knob||x||x||x||3.1 Miles to Washta Access|