A new kayak-sharing pilot program similar to the Nice Ride bike-sharing program is coming to the Mississippi riverfront later this summer.
As part of the Mississippi Paddle Share program, people will be able to rent kayaks from stations located at North Mississippi Regional Park (near the Kroening Interpretive Center) or the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization Stormwater Park and Learning Center, 2522 Marshall St. NE.
Kayaks must be returned to stations at Boom Island near Nice Ride bike stations, which will allow people to bike back to their kayak trip starting point. A kayak ride from the North Mississippi Regional Park to Boom Island is about 4 miles.
Pending final approvals, the goal is to launch the program the end of August.
Partners involved in the project include the National Park Service’s nonprofit charitable partner Mississippi Park Connection, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Mississippi Watershed Organization.
It’s the first paddle share program on the Mississippi and the first of its kind in a national park.
Susan Overson, the National Park Service Paddle Share project manager, said the goal is to connect more people to the river and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area — a 72-mile corridor that runs through the Twin Cities.
“The National Park Service is thrilled to work with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, Mississippi Park Connection, and many other partners, to bring this innovative paddle share program to the Twin Cities,” she said.
The pilot project will continue through the fall. If successful, Overson said the goal is to expand it to other sections of the river.
To rent a kayak, users need to go online at paddleshare.org, select a rental time, watch a safety video, sign a waiver and pay for the reservation. A four-hour rental is $30 and a full-day rental is $60. Users must be at least 18.
Once paid, the users will get a code that will unlock equipment at the stations — the kayak, paddles and life jacket.
The program is designed for people with experience paddling. Beginners are encouraged to go out with guides before trying the paddle share program.
In the case of bad weather and unsafe river conditions, the stations will be shut down.
Park Board Superintendent Jayne Miller said it’s “another indication of building momentum” along the city’s upper riverfront.
“We’re fortunate to have so many innovative organizations and generous partners working toward opening up the Mississippi River to new generations of park users,” she said.
The costs of the pilot project are being covered by a $175,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Transportation Program and a $40,000 grant from REI.
Doug Snyder, executive director of the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, said he hopes people get a chance to experience the river in a new way.
“The MWMO is excited about the chance to participate in this pilot program, to get people on the river and to have them discover the incredible natural resource they have in the heart of an urban area,” he said.
At a glance: Mississippi Paddle Share
What: A kayak-sharing pilot project expected to launch late August. Stations are located at North Mississippi Regional Park (near the Kroening Interpretive Center) and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization Stormwater Park and Learning Center, 2522 Marshall St. NE. Return stations are at Boom Island.
How it works: Users reserve a kayak online ($30 for a half-day; $60 for a full-day)