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Minneapolis-St. Paul Area Lakes- What Makes Our Summers Fun


by Megan Torrini

Legend has it that some of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes formed in the footprints of Paul Bunyan's blue ox, Babe. Actually, there are over 15,000 lakes in the state, and many of them formed during the last Ice Age when glaciers moved back and forth across most of Minnesota. In places, particularly those near ice margins where a lot of sediment was being deposited, large fragments of ice could become buried under layers of soil. The buried ice would eventually melt and the soil collapsed, leaving holes, called kettles, in the ground. The kettles filled with water to become lakes. Holes, kettles, lakes, whatever you want to call them, we got a lot of them!

Minneapolis is known as the City of Lakes, boasting beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams which residents and visitors enjoy for swimming, boating, fishing, and relaxing along the shores. From recreational use to bird and wildlife habitat, our waters fulfill many functions.

Do Minnesotans love to spend time on their lakes? Oh, you betcha. In fact, water-skiing was invented here in 1922. And, believe it or not, there is one boat per six people, more than in any other state. Lakes within city limits do not allow motorized boats, but many other activities are done on and around our city lakes.

Minneapolis Lakes

Lake Calhoun
Part of the Chain of Lakes, Lake Calhoun is one of Minneapolis' larger lakes. The lake is surrounded city parkland and circled by bike and walking trails, it is popular for many outdoor activities. Lake Calhoun is part of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway - it connects with Lake of the Isles on the northeast, Cedar Lake on the northwest and Lake Harriet on the south. Lake Calhoun is popular for canoeists, kayakers and winder surfers, and also has three swimming beaches. Lake Calhoun also hosts the Calhoun Yacht Club and the Lake Calhoun Sailing School, as well as local high school teams and the University of St. Thomas Sailing Team.

Cedar Lake
Cedar Lake is popular for canoeing and swimming, with two official swimming beaches. A third unofficial beach, known as Hidden Beach is located on the northeast side of the lake, and remains the most popular swimming and sun bathing area on Cedar lake.

Lake Hiawatha
At one time, Lake Hiawatha was just a bog, but over the years the park system transformed the bog into a lake surrounded by a beautiful park. The lake and park have a fishing dock, bike path, a wading pool, tennis courts, softball diamonds, a rec center and it borders a municipal golf course.

Lake Nokomis
Lake Nokomis was once named Lake Amelia, and its current name was adopted in 1910 to honor Nokomis, grandmother of Hiawatha (legendary Indian hero of Longfellow's poem, Song of Hiawatha). A hugely popular lake, Lake Nokomis is used for fishing, sailing and swimming. The two beaches and surrounding park area have facilities for walking and running, softball, cycling, and other sports.

Lake Harriet
Lake Harriet, known as one of the most beautiful of all Minneapolis lakes, is noted for its biking and walking trails and is a popular destination for a variety of water activities, including sailing and 2 swimming beaches.

St. Paul Lakes

Lake Como
Lake Como in St. Paul has been a popular recreation area for residents of Minneapolis-St.Paul for more than a century. The well-maintained trails surrounding it make Lake Como a popular spot for walking, jogging and biking. Paddleboats are available to rent for those who want to get out on the water, and fishing is allowed from the shore.

Lake Phalen
Lake Phalen, located on the east side of St. Paul, has the only swimming lake located in St. Paul, making it a popular destination for locals who want to go for a swim on a hot summer's day. Other activities include sailing, canoeing and fishing, and the trails that surrounded the lake make for a nice stroll, long jog or a fun bike ride. Lake Phalen also has an extensive picnic area along the lakeshore, including a picnic pavilion.

If you are looking for lakes with public boat launches, just step outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul city limits and guaranteed, you will find one within a mile or two. Spoon Lake, for example, located in Maplewood on the outskirts of St. Paul, has a boat access for Lake Kohlman, Lake Gervais, Lake Keller and Round Lake.

Megan has a range of education and experience-from Resource Management and Forestry to Information Technology. She also enjoys freelance writing and is currently developing her own online business. Megan lives in Inver Grove Heights with her husband Tony, daughter Isabel, son John, and two beautiful but very naughty Siberian Huskies, Mika and Timber.

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