Bear Lake, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

Sunny days, solitude and shoreline – that’s what you’ll find at Bear Lake. Located in Minnesota’s Central Region, little Bear Lake provides them all. This hidden paradise is a lovely place to watch the sun rise, hear the songbirds announce their joy, and delight in the feeding fish dappling the water’s surface. Gazing over the waking waters, you’d never believe you are only a few miles from Minnesota’s second largest lake, Mille Lacs Lake. Certainly the large, well-known lakes hold their charms. But small water bodies like Bear Lake have the added advantage of less people, less noise and more uninterrupted scenery. Bear Lake is entirely private – no hoards of fishermen on the first day of bass season, no one to disturb the nesting robins, or startle the great blue heron on the shore. A week at Bear Lake rejuvenates the soul.

There used to be more people at Bear Lake. After Native Americans, fur traders and lumbermen, small farmers tried to make a living on the often marshy ground in the area. Most did not succeed. By the 1930s, many farmers had given up and left the area. The town of McGrath, a few miles to the east, lost the majority of its population. Now, instead of hundreds of lumbermen, farmers and trades people, McGrath’s population is less than a hundred people. Those that remain appreciate a place where they know everyone in town. The railroad is gone but a sawmill remains. McGrath is the traditional Midwestern small town with a gas station, convenience store, and few other small businesses. Major shopping can be done in Aitkin or Hinckley or Mora. A visit to the big city can mean either Duluth or Brainerd. And the ‘Twin Cities’ are only a couple of hours down the interstate.

But, there are several golf courses within 10 miles of Bear Lake, a casino, campgrounds, restaurants, resorts and museums. The area is deceptively quiet; all necessary and desired amenities are located close by. The lake itself is filled with the usual fishing fare in the area: black crappie, bluegill, pike, pumpkinseed sunfish, perch along with the usual bullheads and suckers. A remnant of Minnesota’s glacial past, Bear Lake has no real inlet and only a small stream as an outlet which eventually joins the Snake River. A few residences dot the southern shoreline, but much of the area is brushy swamp. Canoeing and kayaking are the best ways to explore the shore. At only 131 acres, there isnt much need of a larger boat on Bear Lake. A rowboat or trolling motor will get you everywhere there is to go. The woods around the lake are home to black bear, white-tailed deer, ruffled grouse, rabbits, coyote, fox and squirrels, while the lake itself hosts various duck species and water birds. Most of the local wildlife come to the shore to drink, so binoculars are a must. The west part of the lake has depths to 60 feet, but the eastern part is much shallower. In winter, ice fishing is a favored pastime, and ice skating on the lake will occupy the young members of the family.

The deserted country roads near Bear Lake are ideal for bicycling and hiking. And a trip to Mille Lacs will provide ample room for sailing, wakeboarding, power boating, water skiing, tubing and pontooning. Mille Lacs Lake is known as prime walleye waters and in winter, a large village of fish houses commands the ice. Mille Lacs also supports several resorts, two small State Parks, and Indian Museum operated by Native Americans who live near the lake, organized hiking and birding trails, and all sorts of bait shops, marinas and water-focused businesses. In late summer the museum, in conjunction with the Mille Lacs Lake Historical Society Museum, produces a Rendezvous at the 1930s trading post next to the museum. The town of Aitkin, north of Mille Lacs Lake, holds a great deal of history. From its location as a steamship stop along the upper Mississippi to its position as an important lumbering town, Aitkin celebrates its heritage with the Aitkin Festival of Adventures and Mud River Music Festival. The day after Thanksgiving the famed Fish House Parade takes place to the enjoyment of spectators. Aitkin is worth a visit anytime of year.

Five miles northeast of Bear Lake, Solana State Forest offers primitive camping, canoeing and kayaking, hunting in season and nearly 50 miles of ATV trails. The Park also offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. The Mile Lacs Trail Snowmobile Club provides maps and organized treks for those unfamiliar with the area.

Some private residences are available as vacation rentals at Bear Lake. Other vacation rentals are available around Mille Lacs Lake. Resorts, fishing camps, and bed-and-breakfasts are all located within a 10-mile radius. Real estate may be available near Bear Lake. There is certainly property for sale within Aitkin County, some with lakefront or lake views. So, what are you waiting for? Come and enjoy the solitude of Bear Lake. Refresh your soul!

Things to do at Bear Lake MN

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • State Forest
  • Museum
  • Shopping
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Bear Lake MN

  • Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Sucker
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Bear Lake MN Photo Gallery

    Bear Lake MN Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 131 acres

    Shoreline Length: 2 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,255 feet

    Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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