Stand Up Paddle Boarding My Favorite MN Lakes

Some wind on your hair and against your back. Water on your toes and the grip of a paddle.  Stand Up Paddle Boarding is my love for the summer.   My true love, which is my husband, and I can be found most weeknights and weekends trying out yet another Lake.   Gather around my paddle board and I’ll tell you about my favorite lakes in Central Minnesota for paddle boarding and kayaking.  

It needs to be a perfect night to paddle board and I’m game.  My husband texts me from work in the summer and says. I’m coming home at 5 pm. We eat and head out to paddleboard. Of course, he won’t be texting me if it’s windy, the water is choppy, the lakes are busy or it’s cool outside.  

We enjoy paddle boarding around the lake. We usually don’t cross the lake in the middle of it unless it’s a smaller lake. When we get tired after 45 minutes, we usually stop in a bay area, and tie our SUPs together and sit on them to enjoy nature, water or a snack. 

Resting on the SUP

If you would like to find more details about SUP and about buying a board, see this link for my blog on Love for SUP.

Love of Stand up Paddle Boarding

What lake do we go to? 

We have two lakes we could walk to from our house and about another 30 lakes we could drive to in  15-35 minutes in Central Minnesota.

Minnesota Lakes We Paddle Board On: Features and Problems

Whipple Lake, Baxter, MN-

+ Small size to get around in 45-55 minutes. Nice bay on the south side to relax and see loons and lilly pads. Nice in the evening and morning hours. Nice sunsets. One side of the lake is mostly nature.  Great parking at public access with a public beach.  Most convenient to our house.

-Busy on the weekends with boats, tubers, jet skis, and fishing boats.  Lake gets choppy with wind and boats. Weedy at the end of July and August.

lilly Pads
Whipple Lake

White Sand Lake, Baxter, MN-

+ Bigger lake, with more to see, and close by. Nice in the morning hours. Loons on this lake. Nice for shore paddle boarding. Nice public access parking lot and dock.

-Weedy areas. Boaters, fishing, very windy and choppy at times.  Busy on weekends and hot days.

Perch Lake, Baxter, MN-

+ Longer lake with bay areas. Fun to watch the activity on the lake. This lake is in town.

-Busy on hot days with boaters and skiers. Weedy areas. Public Access parking is a small area, so you could drive right by.

Nisswa Lake, Nisswa, MN-

+ Smaller lake with lots of houses to view as you go around in 45 minutes. Quiet in the evening on a weeknight.  Connects to other lakes.

-The weediest lake I have been to in the area.   Access is very hidden with no parking area.

loons on Lake Edna
Lake Edna

Lake Edna, Nisswa, MN-

+ Favorite lake in the early morning. Many loons on this lake. Bay areas and mostly quiet. Dock access.

-Weedy in the bay areas. Gravel parking lot for public access. Highway noise on the roadside.

East Twin Lake, Pequot Lakes, MN-

+ My favorite smaller lake with sandy bottom, and beach area you can stop at and rest. Loons on the water. Some bay areas and mostly quiet.

-Highway noise in one area. Wind can pick up in a few areas.  Public access with road parking- no parking lot. Access looks like a swamp but it’s a bay.

West Twin Lake, Pequot Lakes, MN-

+Smaller lake, with small bay areas. Sun and shade at night. Nice public access with no dock but with a large parking lot.

-Weedy in areas. Many fishermen, boaters/tubers can stir up waters.

Lower Cullen Lake, Pequot Lakes, MN-

+Big lake to explore with many features: sandy areas, weedy areas, deep areas, shallow areas, and open area. Loons like this lake. Big Parking lot. Takes 1.5 hours to go around this lake. Connects to Middle Cullen Lake.

-Boaters and fisherman like this lake.  Busy on the weekend and holidays with homeowners and resorts.


Loon Lake, Pequot Lakes, MN-

+Small little lake near Pequot Lakes. Loons spotted, homes and a natural area, shallow and sandy in areas. Quiet in the morning.

-Many fishermen. Very small lake.  Can get busy on holidays and hot days. No dock at access.

Red Sand Lake, Brainerd, MN-

+ Bigger lake, with more to see. A very quiet lake most of the time.  Shallow and natural areas. We use a friend’s dock to access and park.

-Public access parking is inconvenient, choppy on a windy day. Weedy in many areas.

Clearwater Lake, Brainerd, MN-

+Clearwater Lake is East of Brainerd and has a sandy bottom.  Large lake to explore. Not as developed as some lakes. Rocky and sandy shores. A camp on one side of the lake. Natural areas and shoreline to explore.

-Do not go if it is windy because it is so large.

Nokay Lake, Brainerd, MN-

+ Plenty of nature with two sides to explore because of an island in the middle. Loons on the lake.

-Access looks like a swamp but it’s a bay area. Very busy access. Gravel parking lot with limited spots.


Crooked Lake, Brainerd, MN-

+Two lakes connected. We only explored the first lake with much to see.  Many loons and birds and Island.   Morning is a nice time of day to SUP.  Has some shallow areas.

-Limited parking in the parking lot. The activityats can stir up the water in the bays.

Sylvan Lake, Brainerd, MN-

+Connects to other parts of the lake. Deep lake with rocky shoreline. Takes over 1.5 hours to go around the lake. Loons like it here.  Many houses and a resort. A gravel parking lot for Access.

-The Lake can get choppy with boats and wind that may suddenly pick up. Resort and fishing can make it busy.

Dade Lake, Brainerd, MN-

+Smallest lake in the area. Can go around twice it’s so small. Fishermen like it. Half nature, woody and a few houses on shore. Next to Sylvan Lake, so you can do both lakes on the same day.

-Murky, weedy and sandy in areas. Shallow in a few areas with trees to avoid in water. The parking lot is very sandy. No dock at access.

Fish Trap Lake, Cushing, MN-

+Large lake with much to see. Homes, nature, resorts, and islands.  Nice Public Access.

-It’s a large lake, so on a windy day, the lake can get choppy.  Fewer loons and birds were seen at the end of summer.

We have been to a couple of other lakes, but with no public access. You would need to know someone to get access to those lakes.  We try to avoid the giant lakes like Gull Lake and Round Lake and North Long Lake because of their high recreation boating use and are usually windy and choppy.  Public Access MN County Page with links to Maps. Crow Wing County Map of public Access.

We still have another 10-20 more lakes we would like to try this summer. If it’s calm and warm, we will be trying them all.

Hope this list brings you to a new lake this summer in central Minnesota, whether you are kayaking or SUPing or maybe even fishing. Enjoy the lakes and summer.

What is your favorite lake to kayak or paddle board on? Share in the comments below.

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Best MN Lakes to SUP and Kayak