Brainerd And Northern Minnesota Area Lakes
Minnesota is named "Land of 10,000 Lakes” for good reason. The number of lakes in the state actually exceeds its famous slogan, and each lake has its own unique character and sense of community. With famous historic sites and homes, beautiful natural preserves, sprawling state parks and forests, and unique shopping districts, Minnesota’s lake communities draw a population of outdoor enthusiasts as diverse as the lake’s ecosystems.
Brainerd’s Gull Lake is known for its clean water, vast shoreline, and great recreational opportunities. It is part of a larger chain of lakes, boasts over 9,400 acres and almost 40 miles of shoreline. Gull Lake is popular for fishing, tubing, swimming, boating, and other water activities.
As a reservoir, it is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and drains into Gull River, where it travels from Crow Wing River into the Mississippi. Nearby Pillsbury State Forest and Fritz Loven Park provide locals with wooded beauty. Famed Paul Bunyan Bike Trail is five minutes away, and in the winter Ski Gull hosts Gull Lake Frozen Fore, the world’s largest golf and snowmobile event.
Gull Lake is also home to the world’s largest ice fishing contest with over 10,000 anglers vying to compete for over $150,000- worth of prizes.
Gull Lake Chain
The Gull Lake Chain is located in northwest Brainerd, a little over two hours north of Minneapolis. It consists of eight lakes covering 13,000 acres. The chain is a popular location for a variety of recreational opportunities, including fishing, swimming, and boating. The Gull Lake Dam is a half mile from the outlet of the lake, and is the site of a historic Craftsman-style tender's house.
The Gull Lake Recreation Area offers camping, boating, swimming, picnicking, interpretative hiking trails, and more. Seasonal visitors as well as year-round residents take advantage of the chain’s beauty and proximity to charming boutique shopping, local cuisine, and cultural events.
The Whitefish Chain consists of 14 interconnected lakes situated between Crosslake, Pequot Lakes, and Pine River. The lakes are Arrowhead, Bertha, Big Trout, Clamshell, Cross, Daggett, Hen, Island, Loon, Lower Hay, Lower Whitefish, Little Pine, Rush, and Upper Whitefish, each with its own character and community.
Whitefish Chain’s great location makes it an ideal spot for outdoor recreation. Paul Bunyan Trail has more than 100 miles of trails, and the National Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway offers historical, archaeological, and cultural kiosks. The Whitefish area is also known for its plethora of golf courses, lakeside dining, horseback riding, museums, and great shopping. The area also hosts a number of festivals, including Winterfest in Crosslake, the Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous and Bean Hole Days in Pequot Lakes, Crosslake’s St. Patrick’s Day and Classic Wooden Boat Show, and Summerfest in Pine River.
North Long Lake
Near lovely Merrifield in Crow Wing County lies North Long Lake, a nearly 6,000-acre, 19-mile fishing haven that boasts a thriving walleye and bass population. It is one of the most popular lakes in the area, with several resorts, campgrounds, and cabins. North Long Lake is also the home of a mysterious black hole that measures more than 2,000 feet long and 400 feet wide. The hole is a favorite topic among locals, and has even garnered national attention.
Pelican Lake, at 8,253 acres, is one of the largest and most popular lakes in the Brainerd area. The lake is heavily developed with 22.9 homes/cabins per shoreline mile in 2009. Two resorts remain on the lake along with a youth camp. There are four public accesses and a public swimming beach that provide recreational opportunities. The maximum depth is 104' and about 47% of the lake is 15 feet deep or less. Shallow water substrates consist primarily of sand, although areas of gravel, rubble, marl, and silt are also common.
Once home to early trappers and fur traders, Bay Lake has evolved into a bustling resort community. Located in Deerwood in Crow Lake County, Bay Lake is over 2,000 acres, with 19 miles of shoreline and three islands, the largest of which is a Lutheran church camp. Named by the Ojibway as Ses-sa-beg-a-mah, or "lake of many bays (or arms),” Bay Lake is a popular destination for boating and fishing.
Nearby Cuyuna Lakes Recreational Area is known for its great mountain bike trails. In addition, Paul Bunyan Land and This Old Farm has 25 rides and attractions, and boasts the world’s largest animated man.
Cherished for its location and beauty, Serpent Lake is in "Cuyuna Country,” part of the communities of Crosby, Deerwood, Aitkin, and Brainerd. The Cuyuna Range was created by iron ore mining over 100 years ago, and the reclaimed pits evolved into clear lakes.
As an "in-town” lake, Serpent Lake has over 1,000 acres and 10 foot water clarity, making it a great place to scuba dive, along with fishing, swimming, and other recreational activities. The lake’s size also affords great real estate opportunities for lakeside homes while off-water neighborhoods remain close to shore. Residents are proud of Serpent Lake’s easy access and low-key charm.
As the third largest lake in Minnesota, Leech Lake has attracted families here for generations. There are a number of resorts in the area, along with seasonal homes. It has close to 200 miles of shoreline and over 100,000 acres, and boasts the best walleye and muskie fishing around. The Walker Bay area offers historic sites, boutiques, museums, restaurants, and year-round festivals.
South Long Lake
South Long Lake is located near Brainerd, and consists of more than 2,000 acres. The pine-covered hills (known as the "Northwoods”) and wildlife that surround its shores are just a few reasons why this lake is prized.
The Dakota/Sioux Indians inhabited the area until the 1800s, and the area is home to an abundance of relics and burial mounds. In 1930, the first lakeside resort was built, using lumber from Minneapolis streetcars. South Long Lake’s visitors enjoy boating, waterskiing, kayaking, sailing, canoeing, fishing, and swimming. Paul Bunyan Trail is minutes away, connecting 15 area towns. Nearby Crow Wing State Park is a former frontier town turned year-round recreational mecca.
Mille Lacs Lake
Once known as "Spirit Lake” by native Indian tribes, Mille Lacs Lake is the state’s second-largest lake, covering more than 200 square miles. This lake is famous for "natural” walleye, making it a prime fishing lake. While Mille Lacs Lake draws beachgoers to the area each summer and ice fisherman in the winter, the communities that surround its shores boast a variety of recreational opportunities and accommodations. Garrison, on the northwest shore, offers retail and antique shopping, casual dining, harbor facilities, campgrounds, and resorts. On the south shore of Mille Lacs is Isle, once named "Ethel’s Island” after Charles Malone’s daughter. Isle has a lively shopping district with restaurants, museum, library, and more.
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe was the first Indian tribe to use casino revenues to back a development bond issue, and includes schools, medical clinic, ceremonial buildings, and community centers. Onamie, which means "dancing ground” in Ojibwe, is south of Mille Lacs on the shore of Lake Onamie. Onamie is the area’s largest city, and includes a retail district, city parks, and a hospital.
Wahkom on the lake’s south shore, and is the Dakota Indian name for "spirit.” Wahkon has a revitalized Main Street and boat launch facilities. Cove is east of Onamie and includes gift shops, maple syrup, and public water access. On the northeast shore is Malmo, named by Swedish immigrants after the Swedish town, and has charming shops and cafés. Wealthwood is in the northwest and is known for its natural beauty, including Wealthwood State Forest.
Ten Mile Lake
Ten Mile Lake is a spring-fed lake in northwest Minnesota. It has over 5,000 acres, 25 miles of shoreline, and with a maximum depth of 208 feet, Ten Mile is one of the deepest natural lakes in the state. The lake is a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing, water skiing, and boating, and is well known for sport fishing. Ten Mile Lake maintains a catch and release policy, and anglers practice selective harvest to help maintain the quality of fishing.
The campgrounds that surround the lake are spacious and offer comfortable accommodations, including water and electric hookups, showers, bathrooms, and boat docks and ramps. Hackensack, the nearest city, offers access to nearby lakes, Savanna State Forest, and Chippewa National Forest.
The Rice Lake recreation area consists of over 322 acres. The maximum depth of Rice Lake sits at about 25 feet and the lake connects to the Mississippi River.
Located southeast of Nisswa, Hubert Lake has more than 1,000 acres with a maximum depth of 83 feet. Known for its excellent water clarity and wooded seclusion, Hubert Lake is a great spot for people who want a respite from the busier Gull Lake chain. The pines that surround the lake add to its "Up North” character and reputation. Along with swimming, fishing, and boating, the lake’s scenic beauty is popular for hiking and mountain biking.
Middle Cullen Lake
Middle Cullen Lake is part of the Cullen Chain of Lakes. Located in Crow Wing County, Middle Cullen Lake has close to 300 acres. Quaint cabins and homes dot the shoreline of the chain. Public access to Middle Cullen Lake is on the northeast side. The lake chain is known for its diverse species of fish, clear waters, and nearby recreational opportunities that include golfing, horseback riding, and hiking. Close to Nisswa’s upscale shopping and dining and Paul Bunyan Trail, Middle Cullen Lake has something for everyone.
Upper Cullen Lake
As part of the Cullen Chain of Lakes, Upper Cullen has the distinction of being the most undeveloped of the three, making it the most pristine. The 435-acre lake has no public launch access, and there is no noise or traffic. It is an idyllic paradise for people who want to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors without distraction but still close enough to great shopping and dining. Nearby Paul Bunyan Trail and golf resorts offer visitors off-water recreation.
Upper Mission Lake
Upper Mission Lake is an 817-acre lake less than ten miles from Merrifield in Crow Wing County with a maximum depth of 36 feet. Upper Mission is connected to Lower Mission and was named by a German Lutheran minister, who established a mission station in 1857, and ministered to Chippewa Indians. The mission was destroyed in an Indian uprising in 1862. By the late 19th century, logging became the primary industry, and resorts began to open up along its shores. The lake’s present resorts were all built in the early 20th century. Merrifield offers visitors and locals shopping and dining. The local golf courses include Pine Ridge Golf Club, Fair Havens Golf Course, and Blueberry Pines Golf Club. Hiking trails include Desoto Trail, Nicolet Trail, and Eagle Scout Trail.
Lower Mission Lake
Connected to Upper Mission is Lower Mission Lake, a 698-acre lake northeast of Merrifield. The maximum depth of this lake is 27 feet and more than 60% of it is less than 15 feet deep. It is known for the wild rice that thrives along the south shoreline and for the curly-leaf pondweed. Lower Mission Lake’s diverse ecosystem is of special concern to residents. Anglers maintain a catch-and-release policy for northern pike. Like Upper Mission, Lower Mission is minutes from golfing, hiking, and shopping and dining.
Lake Edward is famed for its walleye fishing, but other species thrive, including northern, crappie, sunfish, and both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Eagles and loons soar over its waters, and the lake’s clean, shallow, and sandy beach brings summertime visitors to the area. There are lots of cabins, homes, and resorts in the area. Less than 15 miles from Lake Edward is Nisswa, the Paul Bunyan Trail, and Pequot Lakes. In addition, there are a host of festivals, art fairs, and events.
The aptly named Trout Lake is a quaint, secluded spot in the state’s north woods, just 16 miles from Grand Marais on Lake Superior in Brainerd-Baxter. The lake spans over 1,000 acres and is home to a variety of fish species and other wildlife. Trout Lake Resort includes private, charming cabins off Gunflint Trail. The resort boasts a dock perfect for watching the Northern Lights. Brainerd offers visitors access to shopping, dining, and other recreational opportunities and Grand Marais is renowned for its beautiful harbor, boutiques, and great restaurants.
Located one mile east of Nisswa is Clark Lake, a 343-acre lake with a maximum depth of 31 feet. Clark Lake is known for its clear waters, diverse wildlife, and forested shorelines. Cottages, homes, and a hockey camp share the lake’s recreational offerings, which includes fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and more. Charming Nisswa offers visitors and locals eclectic shopping and dining.
White Sand Lake
White Sand Lake is located within Baxter, the heart of the famed Brainerd Lakes area. White Sand is a developed 368-acre lake, known for its shoals and water clarity. Visitors can water ski, boat, swim, canoe, fish, and kayak during the warm months. During winter months, visitors enjoy Ski Gull. The area also boasts a number of historical sites. The Crow Wing Historical Society offers exhibits showcasing the lumber, railroad, and mining industries. Baxter is a serene and beautiful area that is home to the Mississippi and Whipple Lake. It is also known as the starting point for the Paul Bunyan Trail.
Clearwater Lake is located in Crow Wing County. The lake area consists of over 900 acres. The lake's maximum depth and is does have a sand bottom.
Lake Alexander is near Randall in Morrison County and it’s one of the most popular lakes in the area. Its scenic beauty, clear water, and diverse fishing has garnered an excellent reputation. The Nature Conservancy runs The Lake Alexander Preserve on the south shore, and is open to hiking. Several resorts dot the landscape as well. Bald eagles and red-shouldered hawks nest in the white pines along Lake Alexander’s shores. Bog bluegrass, a threatened native species, also thrive here.
Fish Trap Lake
Fish Trap Lake is located near Lincoln in Morrison County. Named a "pure Minnesotan jewel” Fish Trap Lake is located only two hours north of the Twin Cities. Fish Trap is surrounded by other area lakes and there are two resorts on its shores. Popular recreational activities include canoeing, hydro-biking, kayaking, pontooning, and swimming. Bald eagles, blue herons, and other waterfowl make this appropriately named lake its home. Minutes from the lake are a championship golf course, the Paul Bunyan Trail, and Chippewa Lookout in Crow Wing Park, which offers spectacular views of the Mississippi and Crow Wing Rivers.
Sibley is near Pequot Lakes; it’s a sparkling, 418-acre lake with eight miles of shoreline. This smaller lake community boasts over 100 cabins and homes and one resort. Pequot Lake’s charming shopping district and historic Victorian cottages as well as the Paul Bunyan Trail draws people from around the area. Sibley Lake is a perfect location for those who enjoy a tranquil, pristine setting.
Ossawinnamakee Property Owners Association (OPOA) is an association of property owners on Lake Ossawainnamakee and is a non-profit organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Minnesota. The organization had its beginning in 1960 and the general purpose for which it was organized was "to foster good fellowship, and to improve boating and fishing on the lake." Social events dominated the club's activities until 1967 when all activities were suspended because of membership apathy and waning participation. In April of 1982, a group of interested and concerned residents of Ossawinnamakee and and Kimble lakes reorganized into the O.K. Yacht Club with new objectives and a commitment to address modern issues that affect the area and the lives of its residents.
Perch Lake is a serene lake located near Baxter in Crow Wing County. The lake area consists of over 274 acres with a maximum depth of 40 feet.
Gilbert Lakes in the popular Brainerd-Baxter area. As a 369-acre lake, Gilbert maintains a close-knit community and friendly atmosphere. Its prime location offers visitors a chance to explore the wooded forests, eclectic shopping districts, and lively festivals in the area. The Paul Bunyan Trail and area lakes bring mountain bikers, hikers, anglers, boaters, kite surfers, and other outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts to the community.
Located near Motley is Shamineau Lake, a popular fishing lake known for its excellent water clarity and a "secret beach” on a northern sand bar. Shamineau Lake is one of several that make up the Lincoln Lakes Area. At 1,626 acres, Shamineau is the second largest lake in the area. It is home to two resorts and a plethora of vacation cabins and homes. Camp Shamineau is a privately owned Bible camp that owns one mile of undeveloped shoreline. Nearby Crow Wing State Park, Charles A. Lindbergh State Park, Paul Bunyan Trail, and Pillsbury State Forest attract horseback riders, hikers, and wildlife enthusiasts. There are a plethora of antique stores outside Motley and The Trading Post and The Silo are two popular stops. Less than a half-hour’s drive is Little Falls, which boasts Minnesota Fishing Museum and Education Center, Musser/Weyerhaeuser Homes, Pine Grove Zoo, and more.
Sylvan is an 803 acre lake located 2 miles northeast of Pillager in southern Cass County. A long, shallow channel connects two distinct basins.It has a maximum depth of 57 feet and 46% of the lake is 15 feet deep or less. The lake is heavily developed with 230 homes/cabins, a resort with 27 cabins, and a camp. The south basin and the channel have considerably more emergent vegetation than the north basin, limiting some development.