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Fountain Lake is a sparkling 521-acre southern Minnesota lake, featuring three prominently-placed water fountains. Its shores surround the city of Albert Lea and connect to its southern sister, Albert Lea Lake. Fountain Lake is a recreational haven, with activities ranging from casting out a fishing line on a crisp autumn evening to splashing about in the shallow end of the lake on its sandy beach.
While Albert Lea is one of the many small towns of America, the city sets itself apart by having been settled between two bodies of water, the edges of town curving around the shorelines of both Albert Lea Lake and Fountain Lake. Located in Freeborn County, the city hosts events all through the year, from the Land Between the Lakes Triathlon to the ever-growing popular equestrian sport known as cowboy mounted shooting, where riders shoot blank cartridges at balloons while atop horseback at breakneck speeds. Just a few other attractions include an outdoor blues festival and a doll and toy museum open to curious visitors. A popular festival during the chill of October is devoted to reenacting America's early times during the fur trade, where live cannons, crafts and costumed locals make an appearance.
Fountain Lake has plentiful fish for eager anglers. Walleye, black crappie and channel catfish are abundant in numbers, swimming in the lake's maximum depth of 14 feet. Anglers have 14 miles of shoreline to explore to find that perfect fishing spot. Or, they can fish from shore from one of the many lakeside homes.
There are no motor size restrictions on Fountain Lake, so canoeists, kayakers, water skiers, wake boarders, and tubers share the lake's 521 acres. Fountain Lake is a part of a chain of lakes, with Pickerel Lake and White Lake flowing into its waters. The water then travels southeast into Albert Lea Lake via a channel, which is not navigable by boat. Albert Lea Lake is the headwaters of the Shell Rock River. There are multiple public access points at Fountain Lake, including boat ramps and a recreational swimming area for locals and visitors. The lake's dam, which is controlled by the city, is used to maintain water levels.
A few miles east of Fountain Lake is Myre-Big Island State Park, where winter activities flourish. Visitors and locals snowshoe, cross country ski and snowmobile through the miles of trails. Warmer months see backpackers and campers hiking into wetland areas, rolling hills and deeply wooded forests. The only sounds that will greet you each morning during your hike will be the twittering of birds and the soft crunch of pine needles beneath your hiking boots. Miles of mountain biking trails give the adrenaline junkies their fix, while paved trails are available for those looking to take a slower journey through the park.
Wildlife is also abundant at Myre-Big Island State Park, though some creatures find their curious way toward Fountain Lake. White-tailed deer, raccoons, red and gray foxes inhabit the area, along with a few bat species. Keep quiet along the hiking trails near the lake to spot these, along with other smaller species, such as snapping turtles, wood frogs and eastern tiger salamanders. Birders will find a number of species to their liking, such as the American kestrel, great horned owl and the bald eagle. Listen closely for the red-tailed hawk's signature screech, too.
Whether Fountain Lake becomes your weekend retreat or you decide to purchase your dream real estate property, the area is rich in events to keep you busy from the start of the year all the way through December. Pull out a book and sit yourself under a tree to admire anglers reeling in the day's catch, or try your hand at building the next best sand castle along the swimming beach at the lake. Either way, Fountain Lake will not disappoint -- so come visit soon!
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