Lake Osakis, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

Also known as:  Osakis Lake

Lake Osakis, stretched across the prairie in the Central Region of Minnesota, has been a vacation destination for several generations of ‘lake lubbers’. Located just two hours northwest of Minneapolis-St Paul, Lake Osakis is easily reached from Interstate 94. Lake Osakis is the primary source of the Sauk River, having a naturally occurring but now human-controlled outflow on the east side of the lake. With 52 miles of shoreline, the lake features many points, sunken islands, bays and bars. One of the larger of what is known as the Alexandria Lakes, Lake Osakis is one of many lakes locally that were gouged into the earth by the last glaciers covering Minnesota. Its name evolved from the Ojibway term, ‘Asagi Sagaiiun’ or ‘The Sauk’s Lake’. Long before the arrival of European settlers, at least three different Native American tribes lay claim to the lake and its adjacent hunting lands. When settlers arrived in the 1800s, local tribes still spoke of battles fought along its shores.

In truth, European explorers may have arrived in the area much earlier than is generally believed. The infamous Kensington Runestone was unearthed less than 10 miles from the shores of Lake Osakis. Discovered in 1898 on a local farm, archaeologists and linguists are still at odds over whether the stone with its carved runes is authentic or an elaborate forgery and hoax. Other artifacts pointing to Viking presence have been discovered in the general vicinity, and there is one historical reference to Viking explorers coming south from the Hudson Bay area in the mid-1300s. The stone may tell a true tale of the death of part of their group at the hands of local residents. Whatever the truth, the stone can be seen in Alexandria at the Runestone Museum, 10 miles to the west.

Minnesota is known for fishing. And no lake bases its popularity on fishing quite as much as Lake Osakis. In fact, Lake Osakis is known as a ‘mother lake’; the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources harvests walleye eggs here yearly to stock its hatcheries for planting in other lakes. Naturally, fishermen flock to Lake Osakis to fish for walleye but also for northern pike, bluegill, crappie, rock bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, carp, pumpkinseed, yellow bullhead and cisco. Several resorts dot the shores to cater to both fishermen and family visitors. In winter, ice skating and ice sailing join ice fishing to keep the lake in use all year round.

Lake Osakis has much to offer vacationers: sailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, water skiing, pontooning, canoeing and kayaking. The natural sandy shoreline makes for some excellent swimming beaches. Battle Point County Park is located along the eastern shore of Lake Osakis. The park is approximately 10 acres in size and forms a peninsula into Lake Osakis. Amenities include a fishing pier, boat launches, picnic tables, picnic shelter, upgraded restrooms and running water.

The small town of Osakis on the southern shore welcomes visitors, offering lakeside resorts and a variety of eating establishments. Many activities and festivals offer fun to visitors, including fishing tournaments, ice fishing tournaments, snowmobile racing, bike tour events, kids fishing tournaments, festivals, rodeos, runners’ events and car shows. Near Alexandria, a summer theater offers comedies and musicals. Also near Alexandria, Lake Carlos State Park is a reserve of woods and meadows, with a sandy beach on the lake and camping facilities for tents, RVs and camping cabins.

Lake Osakis is located at the hub of two excellent Minnesota trail systems, with the Central Lakes Trail meandering 55 miles through scenic lands to Fergus Falls. This non-motorized trail for walking, biking and rollerblading becomes a groomed snowmobile trail in winter. At Lake Osakis, the trail joins the Lake Wobegon walking and biking trail which heads south to St Joseph. The combined trails cover a distance of 120 miles and form one of the longest paved trails in the country. The entire trail system is heavily used for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in winter.

Nature lovers come to Lake Osakis to view the birds and waterfowl that frequent the area. Among the winged denizens of the lake are western and red-necked grebes, the hard-to-find Clark’s grebe, pelicans, black and Forster’s terns, Franklin’s gulls and a variety of herons, egrets and waterfowl. In the fall, hunters arrive to hunt deer, rabbit, squirrel, pheasant and ducks. The appeal of Lake Osakis spans all seasons.

Vacation rentals are plentiful at Lake Osakis. Lodgings include resort cottages and cabins, private home rentals, bed-and-breakfast establishments and motels. Real estate around the lake is sometimes available – both as buildable lots and existing homes. So, check the runes; your future fortune could include a visit of a week or a summer at Lake Osakis.

Things to do at Lake Osakis

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Osakis

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Cisco
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Bullhead
  • Yellow Perch

Lake Osakis Photo Gallery

Lake Osakis Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Todd County

Surface Area: 6,361 acres

Shoreline Length: 52 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,322 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,317 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,326 feet

Average Depth: 17 feet

Maximum Depth: 73 feet

Water Volume: 108,389 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 5 years

Drainage Area: 139 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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