South Long Lake, Minnesota, USA

Also known as:  Upper South Long Lake, Lower South Long Lake, Brainerd Lakes

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at South Long Lake.

If you’re considering South Long Lake vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our South Long Lake guide!

South Long Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

South Long Lake near Brainerd, Minnesota in Crow Wing County offers 2,115 acres of scenic beauty with a shoreline surrounded by rolling hills covered with towering pines. Year round recreational water activities and close proximity to a wide variety of attractions make this lake a premier vacation destination.

South Long Lake is divided into two sections conveniently called Upper South Long Lake with 809 acres and Lower South Long Lake claiming 1,306 of the total area. The Nokasippi River flows from Upper South Long Lake to Lower South Long Lake, on to a smaller lake called Round Lake, and from there into the great Mississippi River. In 1936, a dam was built at the outlet of Upper South Long Lake to prevent flooding downstream from seasonal rain and snow melt in the spring.

The Dakota (Sioux) Indians inhabited the South Long Lake area until the early 1800s; the thickly wooded surroundings and abundant wildlife provided them with plentiful hunting and fishing. Many relics and burial mounds are still found today giving evidence of their villages and lifestyles. From 1890 to 1910, logging of the great forests brought some of the first settlers as towns were built to accommodate the loggers and their families. In 1930, the first lakeside resort was built using second-hand lumber and windows from discarded streetcars from Minneapolis. Over the years, more resorts were built as visitors flocked to the area to enjoy the excitement of Northwoods living.

Today, lakefront real estate is prime investment for relocation. With boating, waterskiing, jet skiing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, swimming or just relaxing on a sandy beach, residents have 24 hour access to the many pleasures of lakefront living. With multiple public access points, visitors can delight in all that South Long Lake has to offer. Anglers test their skills to reel in walleye, northern pike, bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie, black bullhead, black crappie, bowfin, brown bullhead, common shiner, golden shiner, greater redhorse, hybrid sunfish, pumpkinseed, rock bass, white sucker, yellow bullhead, yellow perch and cisco. Fishing is popular during all four seasons, and the challenge only increases when Old Man Winter freezes the water and ice fishing season begins.

A short drive from South Long Lake is the longest Minnesota bike trail; the 110-mile Paul Bunyan Trail connects bikers and hikers to smaller trails along the way. There are 15 connecting towns along the route that offer overnight accommodations, meals, and necessities for those traveling the trail. Campsites along the way are available also. The terrain ranges from open flat stretches to hilly and scenic. Rental bicycles are available at several outfitters for those who do not bring their own bike. During the winter as the snow covers the ground, the trails double as routes for snowmobile enthusiasts.

Also nearby South Long Lake is the Crow Wing State Park which is self-described as a nature lover’s delight. History buffs can explore a historic site of a previous frontier town and the remains of an ox cart trail. While here visitors can hike, bike, boat, swim, fish, and picnic during the warm weather and cross country ski and snowmobile during the snowy days of winter. Paddlers will enjoy exploring the waters of the Crow Wing and Mississippi Rivers.

While at South Long Lake, be sure to visit Brainerd where you can choose from a variety of vacation rentals, including private homes, condominiums, chalets, and bed and breakfast inns. In town you can find information about guided horseback riding trips, sleigh rides, water parks, casinos, racetracks, downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowtubing and golf courses. If you think you just can’t see it all, think again; visitors can take a hot air balloon ride over the entire area to enjoy the beauty from a bird’s eye view.

Whether you arrive in time for the colorful fall foliage, the pristine whiteness of the freshly fallen winter snow, the rebirth of the plants and trees in the spring, or the abundance of summertime outdoor activities, it is always the right time to visit South Long Lake and Brainerd. Start planning your visit today.

Custom South Long Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at South Long Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at South Long Lake

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

Best hotels and vacation rentals at South Long Lake

The South Long Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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South Long Lake photo gallery

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South Long Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Department of Natural Resources

Surface Area: 2,115 acres

Shoreline Length: 16 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,195 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,193 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,196 feet

Average Depth: 13 feet

Maximum Depth: 47 feet

Water Volume: 43,096 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 1.3 years

Drainage Area: 68 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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