Designated as a National Recreation Trail, the Souris River Canoe Trail provides wonderful opportunities for wildlife viewing, passing through unique bottomland hardwood forests rich in beauty, woodlands, and wildlife.
The canoe trail can be paddled as a 5.5 mile or 13 mile trip. The 5.5 mile route travels from Johnson Bridge to Thompson Well and takes 2-3 hours. The 13 mile route travels from Johnson Bridge to Dam 1 and takes 5-7 hours. Numbered markers are located at each mile along the river if you want to track your travel.
The canoe route starts at Johnson Bridge where a trail used by Native Americans crosses the river. The river flows northwest toward Canada, meandering in great bends across its flood plain, leaving numerous oxbows along the way. Oxbows are created as the course of a river changes and erodes new channels. Eventually, the former channel is cut off from the main flow and becomes standing water. Oxbows offer good opportunities to view waterfowl and wildlife. The river corridor is lined with willow, elm, ash, box elder, and cattails.
Sandhills Slough, located between river mile markers 3 and 4, is a river oxbow and a favorite spot for tree nesting ducks such as wood ducks and hooded mergansers. Feel free to explore this oxbow and its wildlife.
Thompson Well is located at river mile marker 5.5, and is a former homestead site. A boat ramp, rest room, hand water pump, tables, and parking area are available here.
Near river mile marker 6, Willow Creek enters the Souris River. This tree-lined corridor is a good place to view porcupine, deer, and moose.
Two more unnamed oxbows are located between river mile marker 12 and Dam 1, offering more waterfowl and wildlife viewing opportunities.
The canoe trail ends at Dam 1, and a boat ramp and a parking area are located here.
For a map of the canoe trail, please see the Souris River Canoe Trail brochure.
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25 species of ducks use the Refuge habitat, including 4 species that are rare visitors and 16 species that breed here.