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He's been out on Pimushe Lake since dawn and hasn't seen anything. Ready to give up, he's walking down an abandoned logging road heading back to the cabin he's renting on the lake. Lost in his thoughts he almost walks past the dull speckled brown bird. Only the spread of its tail and the thrumming of its wings give away its location. It's one of the ruffed grouse he was hunting - sitting in the brush right in front of him. He pauses a moment, debating whether he can take the shot, and the bird, finally sensing the danger, bursts out of the scrub and flies off. He shakes his head and starts back to the lake. At least he can count on the fish biting on Pimushe Lake in the northwest region of Minnesota. A string of crappie isn't the same as a few grouse, but it will still be a good day.
Pimushe Lake is one of the hundreds of lakes that dot Minnesota's Northwoods - reminders of its glacial past. The seven mile long lake is surrounded by the Chippewa National Forest and sits five miles north of the town of Pennington in Beltrami County. There is some development on the south end of the lake including resorts and vacation rentals. Most of the lake's almost 30 miles of shoreline, however, is publicly owned and should stay undeveloped maintaining Pimushe Lake's natural beauty. There are places on the lake where there are no cabins visible, and visitors can pretend the lake is their own private retreat.
The lake is ringed with maple, oak, spruce and birch and has four islands and several bays to explore by canoe, kayak or motor boat. In addition to private access from one of the lake's vacation rentals, access to Pimushe Lake is from a US Forest Service concrete boat ramp. The lake is full of black crappie, and anglers will find abundant populations of bluegill, largemouth bass, northern pike and brown bullhead. There is hunting on the land around Pimushe Lake in the fall with grouse season running from mid-September through December. Duck and goose season is September through November, and hunters can try their luck against the area's white-tailed deer the second and third week of November.
The Chippewa National Forest surrounds Pimushe Lake on all sides. Established in 1908, it is the oldest national forest east of the Mississippi. In 1928 the 1.6 million acre forest's name was changed from the Minnesota National Forest to the Chippewa National Forest to honor the area's native people. Before the land was dedicated as a national forest it was logged extensively. The Lost Forty is a tract of virgin red and white pine that was skipped over during the logging in the 1800's. The land was mistakenly shown on maps as being underwater. Today it offers visitors to Pimushe Lake a chance to see what Minnesota was like before the European settler's influence.
To the west of Pimushe Lake, Itasca State Park is Minnesota's oldest state park. Established in 1891 the park encompasses more than 32,000 acres and includes over 100 lakes. Itasca State Park protects the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The mighty river starts its 2,552 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico as little more than a stream. At the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center visitors can explore the outdoor interpretive displays before walking around the birthplace of the river. There is also a wilderness drive in the park past the 2,000 acre wilderness sanctuary that is one of the seven natural landmarks of Minnesota. The Itasca State Park has trails for hiking and cross country skiing, and there are cabins and campgrounds for overnight stays.
Whether hunting, fishing or just enjoying the loons and eagles that make their home at Pimushe Lake, visitors are sure to find something to enjoy year round. Add the natural beauty of the surrounding area and the many nearby lakes including the nine lake Cass Chain of Lakes and a trip to Pimushe Lake is sure to call families back again and again.
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