The ice-fishing shanty appeared almost out of place here, if that can be said of an ice-fishing shelter on any lake in the heart of a Minnesota winter. But there was the “permanent” turquoise shanty, alone on Snoosebox Lake.
Still, that shouldn’t be overly surprising. Snoosebox appears to be nothing more than an environmental lake, 15 acres or so in size. Under the umbrella of the Crow Wing County Land Department, it’s not even listed on the DNR’s Lake Finder.
But it’s worth finding. Not necessarily for fishing, although according to one Internet report, it does hold panfish, even brown trout, if that’s possible.
A surrounding wetland, brimming with cattails and deep vegetation, also holds plenty of snow. That, along with the fact that it’s easy to find, easily accessible and is a smaller lake and easy to get around, makes it perfect for a quick, quality snowshoe.
And these days, that’s not necessarily easy to find.
Because wetland areas that surround many Minnesota lakes are prime areas for snow accumulation, they’re ideal for snowshoe enthusiasts. But more and more of the land around these lakes is private, off limits to snowshoers and other recreation types. Mostly gone are the days when, after a nice snowfall, snowshoers could go wherever they wish in the quest for knee-high powder.
But such places still exist, and Snoosebox Lake is one of them.
But is it a legitimate snowshoeing destination? Yes.
Snoosebox Lake – in the heart of the Brainerd lakes area in central Minnesota – includes a plowed roadway to the lake from Crow Wing County Road 10, with a plowed turnaround of sorts for minimal parking, although you can always park on the lake. It’s rugged, but perfect for snowshoers to get in, hit the powder, and get out. “Official” snowshoe trails exist at area state parks and the like, but there’s nothing like getting off-road and blazing your own trail through knee-high – and if you’re real luck, waist-high powder.
A scenic park with well-groomed cross-country ski trails is right down the road, but most cross-country ski trails are off limits to snowshoers – snowshoes destroy the groomed grooves that are these trails. And that’s fine. Most cross-country ski trails are also hiking and/or biking paths and don¹t get the pockets of snow that you’ll find at a rugged off-road area like that surrounding Snoosebox Lake.
There’s also very little traffic – foot or vehicular – on and around Snoosebox Lake and the handful of other similar small lakes in the area – you’ll likely have it to yourself. And there’s plenty of surrounding wetlands to explore on snowshoes.
And there’s the fishing factor, so pulling a lightweight sled onto the lake, cutting a hole and dropping a line wouldn’t be unheard of. And, if you like, cross-country skiing is alive and well less than a half-mile away. Afterward, there are plenty of places in which to kick back and refuel; Deerwood is only a mile and a half away.
But on Snoosebox Lake, you would never know it. There it’s just you and the powder.
And that turquoise shanty.