Smith Lake, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

Nestled quietly between Lake Osakis and the City of Alexandria, Smith Lake in Minnesota’s Central Region faces little tourist pressure. Not well known outside of the Alexandria Lakes area, Smith Lake nevertheless offers great fishing, plenty of water sports, and a great place for a vacation. Although other area lakes are larger and better-known, Smith Lake has much to provide those lucky enough to find the resort cottages or campgrounds along the north side of the lake. Homeowners and vacationers enjoy swimming, water skiing, jet skiing, pontooning, canoeing, wakeboarding, windsurfing and tubing on the 550-acre lake. This spring-fed lake was one of many gouged by glaciers in the distant past and serves to feed the headwaters of the Sauk River.

Smith Lake is the perfect picture of what a Northwoods lake should be: a wide expanse of water, fresh air, and a congenial neighborhood of folks determined to enjoy their little piece of heaven, There are no public parks on Smith Lake; those looking for large parks go to Lake Osakis or nearby Lake Carlos with a state park. What Smith Lake does have is an improved concrete boat ramp owned by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for trailered boats. Fishing is a favored activity as it is at most lakes in the Alexandria area. The lake holds black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, yellow perch, hybrid sunfish and pumpkinseed along with such non-sport fish as bullhead and suckers. Walleye are generally stocked as fingerlings every other year. The lake’s average depth is 15 feet. Wetlands along the margins of the six miles of shoreline allow for optimum fish spawning and great panfish angling. Ice fishermen try their luck in winter.

A small water control dam keeps water levels stable. Water from the outflow courses through a network of ‘county drains’ which have channelized the local intermittent streams and serve to drain marshy land in the vicinity for farming. The water eventually reaches Lake Osakis and finally the Sauk River. In recent years, water quality studies have determined that Smith Lake is prone to high levels of phosphorus entering the lake, likely from farm field run-off. The problem is common to lakes in the area, and efforts to alleviate the imbalance are underway so that the fishery and water quality are protected.

A commercial RV campground at the north end of the lake welcomes plenty of summer visitors. A small resort rents modern cottages and provides a beach, swimming area, and lakeside fun to registered guests. A few of the private homeowners rent their properties to short-term visitors. Although the Alexandria area holds a variety of lodgings, Smith Lake is sometimes less crowded and quieter than the bigger chain of lakes. The 55-mile Central Lakes Trail, built on an abandoned Burlington Northern rail corridor, passes nearby and offers nature observance, hiking, cycling, and cross-country skiing in season. The non-motorized trail is open to snowmobiles in the winter, with the Central Lakes Trail joining a network of other trails near Lake Osakis.

The nearby small town of Osakis at the south end of Lake Osakis holds restaurants, lodgings and necessary services. A few miles to the west, the Alexandria Chain of Lakes offers all types of pleasure boating and numerous services and eating establishments accessible from the water. Alexandria is the biggest city in the area, with St. Cloud 65 miles away and Minneapolis-St. Paul 130 miles to the southeast. Smith Lake’s convenience makes it an attractive option for city dwellers desiring a weekend retreat or vacation home that can be reached within a couple of hours.

Alexandria has a regular schedule of festivals and activities geared toward visitors. Fishing tournaments, boat racing, living history events at Fort Alexandria, the Chain of Lakes triathlon, golf tournaments, harvest festivals and fairs mean there is always something going on in the area to pique the family’s interest. Many of the events are Viking-themed or have Viking-based activities or parades. It is considered imperative that every visitor head north of Alexandria to view the Big Ole statue commemorating the area’s presumed heritage of visits from these 14th century world travelers. More about this popular local story can be learned at the Runestone Museum in Alexandria.

There is still room at Smith Lake to build a cottage or year-round home. Real estate is often found for sale. And somewhere in Smith Lake is a walleye or largemouth bass with your name on it. So pack the tackle and pick up supplies for a week at Smith Lake.

Things to do at Smith Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • State Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Smith Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Sucker
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Smith Lake Photo Gallery

  • Symbol of Minnesota Viking pride, Big Ole was built in early 1965 as a second-year addition to the 1964-65 New York Word's Fair. In December, after the Fair closed, Big Ole was trucked to Alexandria, where he was erected on a traffic island on the north end of Broadway. He was an impressive sight, visible for many blocks down the wide boulevard, and at 28 feet tall he towered over most of the buildings in town. Big Ole's conquest of Alexandria, however, was far from easy. In 1967 the town dressed him for the holidays in a Santa suit -- into which someone shot a flaming arrow that sent Ole up in flames! His sword was snapped off by another vandal, he was knocked cockeyed by a freak windstorm, and once, when he was lying prone for repairs, he was partially crushed under the collapse of a snow-covered roof. Through it all, however, Alexandria rallied to their Viking lord, footing the bills for his patch-ups and repaintings and celebrating his return every time. In 2002, Alexandria moved Big Ole north a couple of blocks, and essentially out of town, to a small park on the south shore of Lake Agnes. His shield still boldly proclaims "Birthplace of America," but Big Ole has been given a less stressful spot for his middle age.

Smith Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Surface Area: 550 acres

Shoreline Length: 6 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,345 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,342 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,351 feet

Average Depth: 15 feet

Maximum Depth: 30 feet

Water Volume: 7,928 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 1.9 years

Drainage Area: 19 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

Spread the word! Share our Smith Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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."


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.