When you have 1000 lakes in a county the size of the State of Delaware, including some of the largest, clearest, bluest lakes to be experienced anywhere in the great State of Minnesota: "America's land of sky blue waters and 10,000 lakes," then you have great places to enjoy a boat. Whether your tastes run to sail and natural wind propulsion or serious engine pulsing horsepower, do we ever have great places for you to spend a day on the water.
Because of the great gift of nature and the long departed glaciers of pre-history, Cass County is just packed full of lakes of all sizes, ranging from Leech Lake, the state's third largest at 112,000 acres, to numerous small lakes over 100 acres. Most are easily accessible from our excellent network of state and county roads, offering public water access with boat ramps and ample graded areas to park your rigs. Many are also "chained" along our numerous, historic waterways, providing hours of continous enjoyment for power boaters.
Sailing Options: Sailors, looking for the better sailing lakes in Cass County? Obviously, deeper, open water is your objective and with that in mind Leech Lake, especially its Walker Bay, is the most popular and challenging sailing lake in the county, with Cass Lake, Lake Winnibigoshish, Gull Lake, Ten Mile Lake, Woman Lake, Thunder and Roosevelt Lakes close behind. Another very popular, large sailing lake is Whitefish just outside the county. All offer multiple launch locations, harbors with breakwaters and docks, and support services for food, supplies or other items. For the smaller sailboats requiring little draft clearance, a great many additional lakes offer a pleasant day's outing and exploration.
Wind Surfing: Wind surfers, your options again are almost limitless in Cass County, from our larger lakes and the great winds often blowing hard across them to a smaller lake deep in the woods to be shared with nothing other than your own inner voice. Obviously large open water and shallow depths for wave building are your objective, so some of the best wind surfing can be found in the eastern area of Lake Winnibigoshish, the southeastern areas of Cass and Leech Lake, the far southern and northeastern areas of Gull Lake, and many of our other larger but shallow lakes.
Docking Services: Looking for docking services? Our lakes are rimmed by many, many resorts, most offering fueling services, boat rentals and temporary docking facilities. Some also provide food and refreshments, groceries and emergency repairs as well. Public docking is provided by the City of Walker and the City of Federal Dam on Leech Lake. More limited docking is provided on Girl Lake for those stopping temporarily at Longville, and on Birch Lake for those stopping temporarily at Hackensack.
Northwoods Canoeing and Kayaking
Visit one of the last great and less frequented canoeing and kayaking areas in northern Minnesota. Follow, through miles of unbroken forest, the same water and portage trails blazed by native Americans well before the Age of the Pyramids. Recreate the little changed routes of 18th Century French fur traders, and, nearly two centuries ago, by explorers seeking the source of the "Father of Waters", the Mighty Mississippi.
Whether you want to retrace the pathways of those early explorers of yesteryear; DuLuth, Father Hennepin, Zebulon Pike (of the same fame as Colorado's Pike's Peak), Lewis Cass, Joseph Nicollet, Henry Schoolcraft, or just spend a gentle trip venturing through a chain of unspoiled, forest-locked lakes, Cass County has many, diverse water trails ideally suited for outings from a day to a weekend, or for an extended adventure through nature and history. Take your canoe or kayak far along unspoiled watercourses to fish, birdwatch or hike far from the noise and bother of motorboats or cars.
And best of all, at days end, take your choice of cooking your own catch-of-the-day over a fire at a moonlit campsite, or having a great meal prepared for you before retiring in one of our rustic, lakeshore cabins or modern lodging facilities. Neither miles of unpopulated wilderness, nor all the conveniences of town are far from your reach.
Cass County and adjacent areas offer water trails of varying lengths along the Mississippi, Crow Wing, Boy, Pine and Willow Rivers as well as a grand loop tour with some short portages through the Cass, Winnibigoshish and Leech Lake chain. Over a half dozen other county or nearby rivers and creeks, such as the Shingobee, the Daggett, the Laura, the Ada and the Necktie provide great additional backwoods canoeing and kayaking, especially during the high water, snowmelt-fed, spring months. Altogether, the county and its immediate surrounds serve up several hundred miles of canoeable waters, and by using some of the historic portage trails, you can canoe or kayak for days with little likelihood of seeing anything more than our diverse wildlife.
To quote Barry Babcock, noted Minnesota canoeist* and area resident, "..it seemed inconceivable to me that anything else could rival the memorable wilderness canoeing experience I had in the Superior/Quentico. But since joining the Mississippi Headwaters Canoe Club, it soon became obvious that I had some of the finest canoe country right under my nose and didn't realize it. The region is blessed with richness and diversity perhaps unmatched elsewhere in the state."
When's the best time to go paddling? Mid-late springtime, with its high water, intense bird migration and general "critter" stirrings, generally offers the most opportunities for backwater exploration and wildlife observation. But anytime after early-April on our rivers (or "ice out" on our lakes 2 - 3 weeks later) through late fall will serve up a memorable experience. To the less adventuresome; note, the bugs generally don't arrive until early June and depart well before the debut of our spectacular fall color season in late September. And the height of fall color (late September to early October) provides a truly glorious and memorable time to go canoeing on our lakes and streams.