Located east of Brainerd, near the towns of Crosby and Ironton, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area is part of the Minnesota State Park and Recreation Area system.
Across 800 acres and skills challenge areas, CCSRA hosts over 25 miles of singletrack trail riding making it world-class for mountain biking.
This park is endorsed by the International Mountain Bicycling Association for beginners, intermediates and experts.
As one of Minnesota’s newest State Recreation Areas, Cuyuna’s 5,000 acres are mostly undeveloped.
The areas was developed to rehabilitate a portion of the Cuyuna Range where mining pits and piles of waste rock were left behind after decades of open-pit mining for iron ore.
Abandoned by mining companies more than 30 years ago, the mine pits have naturally filled with water and one, Portsmouth Mine Pit Lake, is considered the deepest lake in Minnesota, a favorite among kayakers and scuba divers in the summer and sledders (as you can see) in the winter.
The city of Crosby is on the shores of Serpent Lake so it’s no surprise that Kahnah’ bek, the Asian-inspired Lake Serpent pictured would reside there. Well, it could also be because Serpent Lake is inhabited by a mythical sea serpent (albeit a less likely scenario). Birthed in 1977, the beautiful stand-out is made of styrofoam and weighs 2,500 pounds. It is 20 feet high, 25 feet long and includes 20 shades (or more) of color. You can find it residing in Crosby Memorial Park.
Roughly 100 miles north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, Mille Lacs Lake (also called Lake Mille Lacs or Mille Lacs) is one of Minnesota’s most popular fishing lakes.
It is Minnesota’s second-largest inland lake with many species of fish including walleye, northern pike, muskie, jumbo perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, black crappie, burbot, and tullibee.
Even in the winter, approximately 5,000 fish houses dot the frozen body of water. If you don’t have an ice house of your own, don’t fret! You can rent one from Eddy’s Resort or from many of the resorts in the towns surrounding the lake; Garrison, Isle, Onamia, Vineland, or Wahkon.
I highly recommend adding ice fishing, or “winter camping,” as they say, to your bucket list!