Beaches of the Byway
Summertime heat is what many of us dream about when we’re clutching our cup of hot coffee on a January morning. Now that our dream has come true, a lot of us have a new dream of cooling off. It’s just the way we are! Fortunately, the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway is awash with beaches and cool water. Here are a few cool destinations along this nationally designated route.
On the east side of the Byway, the Corps of Engineers Recreation Area on Cross Lake features the largest and arguably the most well known public beach along the 54 mile Byway route. In the mid-1960’s two hundred feet of sand beach at the Corps site was opened to public use. Today, in addition to the beach, there are playground areas and convenient parking. Day use costs less than a $1.00/person. About ten years later in the mid-1970’s, a second two hundred foot beach in the Corps Recreation Area was opened to the public. This beach serves as the site for swimming lessons and also has a nearby playground and parking area. With the Corps Recreation Area location so convenient to downtown Crosslake, users can find lunch, snacks, bug spray, sun screen or whatever they might need only a short walk away.
At the northwest end of the Byway route, the City of Pine River offers a swimming area that’s been a source of pride for the town since it was developed in the early 1950’s. Part of the Pine River City Park and located on the north side of the dam, this recreation site has about thirty feet of beach, built in seating overlooking the swimming area, a diving platform, log pavilion and some two hundred feet of relaxing pine-shaded river front. If swimmers feel a need for variety in their day, a few steps to the other side of the dam brings them to a great fishing spot, as well as the location of the famous Pine River Duck Races on summer Fridays. There is no fee for using the Pine River Park and Recreation Area. Enjoy the new interpretive panels installed over the past month at both this site and the Crosslake site.
For Byway travelers looking for a more adventurous beach experience, Whitefish Lake’s Rollie Johnson Natural and Recreation Area attracts boaters to a beautiful white sand beach at Big Island, the largest of the three islands that comprise the Recreation Area. Boats and other watercraft can be rented at marinas and resorts along the Byway route.
To obtain a Byway Tour Map and Guide, contact the Pine River Chamber of Commerce or the Brainerd Chamber of Commerce with local offices in Crosslake and Pequot Lakes. Enjoy the beaches of the Byway this summer!