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Hikers wake up to the sun filtering through the trees and the chirping of indigo buntings and eastern bluebirds at Albert Lea Lake in southern Minnesota. A quick hop out of the tent reveals a soft mist disappearing off the lake's sparkling surface. On the opposite side of the lake, families stroll by the water's many walkways, out from their nearby homes and towards the downtown area of Albert Lea for a leisurely breakfast.
Albert Lea Lake is a diverse body of water which caters to many different lifestyles. This shallow, 2,685-acre lake is located in Freeborn County in Minnesota's southern tourism region. Albert Lea Lake is a glacial lake, formed over 10,000 years ago during the last ice age.
Albert Lea Lake is part of a chain of lakes in the Shell Rock River watershed of southern Minnesota. Water flows into Albert Lea Lake from Fountain Lake via a channel that is not navigable by boat. Albert Lea Lake is the headwaters of the Shell Rock River to the south. A dam constructed in 1864 enlarged and deepened the lake.
The eastern section of Albert Lea Lake's shoreline wraps around the Myre-Big Island State Park, a 2,000-acre park with amenities ranging from miles of rugged hiking trails for the day user to secluded camping spots for the solitary backpacker. The Big Island section of the park, which can be accessed by road over the lake, is a mini paradise of trails laden with basswood, ash, elm and red oak trees towering over the trails. Trout lily, bloodroot, hepatica and spring beauty begin flowering during Minnesota's warmer months, much to the enjoyment of visitors.
Not far from the shores of Albert Lea Lake is the Itasca Rock Garden, a castle-like building constructed in the early 1900s by Danishman John Christensen as a personal art project. Now privately-owned but still open to the public, this intriguing garden is not often visited. The garden offers visitors rock ponds, bridges and unique plant life. Get lost in the lush vegetation and take yourself back in time while walking through stone archways and into dark grottos.
Albert Lea Lake's average depths of 3.5 feet and maximum depths of 5.5 feet host a number of fish species. The lake has been called one of the top walleye lakes in Minnesota, attracting in anglers from all over to snag their share of the fish. Because of its shallow waters, there is a history of winterkill during extremely cold months. However, fish species recover well, and anglers' fishing poles will find black crappie, black bullhead, yellow perch and common carp. Multiple public access points dot the shoreline of the lake, and despite its shallow depth, there are no motor restrictions on Albert Lea Lake.
For those more inclined to stick to the city after a day at Albert Lea Lake, the city is within walking distance at the water's western shoreline. Specialty food shops line the downtown district, along with anything from upscale to casual dining. For the outdoorsy types, snowmobiling trails are scattered throughout the area, making Albert Lea a year round retreat for those looking for a place to settle. Numerous real estate opportunities abound, both near the lake and in close-knit communities.
Whether you're hosting a barbecue on your porch during the summer, overlooking Albert Lea Lake, or taking part in the city's family-friendly events throughout the year, you don't want to miss the opportunities the area has to offer.
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