The Fine Art of Skipping a Rock

It’s a favorite pastime of so many who have spent time near a lake of any size.  Skipping rocks.  Challenging your friends and family to see who can skip the most, striving to beat your highest skip count, and teaching your kids the fine art of skipping a rock. 

Finding the Perfect Rock
The key to a good skip lies in the spinning of the rock, and by using a flat round rock, you are able to add a lot of spins. When choosing a rock, chose something in the range of four to six inches in diameter. The flow of water around the rock lifts it up, propelling the next hop. The more surface area, the more lift.  So flat and round is best.  However, with enough velocity, you can skip almost anything.

Best Rock Skipping Technique
Throw the rock hard, with a lot of linear and angular momentum, at a 20-degree angle.  Most people find they get the best skips when they throw under and sideways, rather than overhand.  On the water, a rock's spin keeps it poised on its trailing edge, rather than somersaulting. In the air, spin provides stability, like Frisbee. With each skip, gravity pulls the rock deeper under the surface, and the water creates more drag on the rock. The rock spends 100 times longer in the air than it does on the water. The flow of water around the rock lifts it up, propelling the next hop. Calm water and a thin, roundish rock are ideal. The world record is 88 bounces, so good luck!

Best Spots to Find Skipping Rocks:
Brighton Beach
Located on the east end of Duluth, and at the beginning of HWY 61, this beach offers some of the best skipping rocks on the North Shore. Enjoy skipping rocks into the abyss that is Lake Superior, or go to the mouth of the Lester River and skip rocks under the Lester River Bridge where the water is usually calm.

Grand Marais Harbor
Located in downtown Grand Marais, this beach features a plethora of flat, smooth red rocks that are perfect for skipping. This is a great spot for families to get together, and just get lost in time skipping rocks.

Any Beach Along the North Shore
Pretty much any beach along the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota will feature numerous rocks that you can skip. Basalt and rhyolite are the most common, and you can recognize these by their bluish black colors with very small crystals. These are the best rocks for skipping.