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The small town of Menahga, Minnesota wraps itself around sparkling, 115-acre Spirit Lake. This popular recreation lake stays busy year round, especially during the summertime with fishing, swimming, boating, canoeing, and kayaking. Spirit Lake is located on the border of Minnesota's Northwest and Central tourism regions.
Anglers eager to tap Spirit Lake's depths for fish will not be left dissatisfied. Many take advantage of the large fishing pier, casting lines into the water while catching up with old friends. Those with boats are able to use the public boat access point to get away from the crowds.
The winter season may bring buckets of powdery snow, but that doesn't keep Menahga residents indoors. During the month of January, residents and visitors take part in the annual fishing derby, where fun and games surround the icy lake. Ice fishing and snowshoeing are additional activities to keep your heart pumping in the cold of winter.
Because Spirit Lake is a healthy lake with good water quality and aquatic vegetation, a variety of fish species reside under the surface with depths up to 45 feet. The largest fish population is largemouth bass, with catches upwards of 20 inches. Anglers looking for other species should tap into the less crowded areas of the lake for bluegill, pumpkinseed, black crappie, northern pike, yellow perch, yellow bullhead and brown bullhead.
After a day playing on Spirit Lake, visitors can take refuge in lakeside vacation rentals to recharge their batteries for the next day. For some off-water fun, visit the small downtown area of Menahga, which means "blueberry" in Chippewa, or walk to St. Urho Park, where the statue of St. Urho stands. The statue is in memory of the patron saint of Finland, and a festival in March honors the Finnish hero when visitors and residents dress up in purple and green.
For the more outdoorsy types, Huntersville State Forest is a few miles east of Spirit Lake, covering 52 square miles of red and jack pine forests, interspersed with aspen and spruce trees. Crow Wing and Shell River pass through the Forest, and avid canoeists are able to paddle the rivers during the day and camp beneath the stars at night. Horseback riders saddle up and take advantage of 18 miles of trails, while hikers and cross country skiers access these trails during other points of the year.
A short 20-minute drive to the north of Spirit Lake rests the bustling city of Park Rapids, Minnesota. Gift shops and restaurants line the downtown district, though the area is known more for the 400 lakes that surround it. For a unique experience, visit in August where every year new chainsaw artists and loggers cut away pines and compete in the Legends and Logging Festival. Runners or bikers have an opportunity to exercise their limbs on the Heartland Trail, a 49-mile paved trail that passes through deep forests and alongside sparkling lakes.
Spirit Lake visitors and residents come to the area for a small town, quiet type of relaxation. Wake up in the early morning for a quick dive into the lake for laps, or paddle out in the evening time and listen for wildlife. Look into a piece of real estate near Spirit Lake and get to know this small town inside and out.
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