So far, we’ve focused on the beaches in Crow Wing County. It seems a little unfair to focus on the ones closest to Brainerd when there are dozens of beautiful beaches thirty minutes out. So, we grabbed snacks and supplies and drove the construction-riddled journey up Hwy 371 to Pine River to visit not only the Pine River Dam Park but also two (count ’em TWO!) beaches on Pelican Lake near Breezy Point.
Pine River Dam Park
The Pine River Dam has been in use for over a century, and it has been used a place of congregation and celebration for nearly as long. Pig roasts, wedding receptions, and more recently, the world famous duck races have all been held near the dam in Pine River. The curved bench area has been a meeting place for decades, and the location has only been getting better over the years.
Our very own Quinn S. spearheaded the Dam Park beach project only a few years ago, adding a sandy area for swimming and splashing. Local service group, Rotary International (Central Lakes chapter), raised the funds for a top notch playground setup to be installed only five years ago. Local artists have decorated the changing room building with scenes that promote the historical and natural features of Pine River.
What I’m saying is that the Dam Park is a touchstone for the town. It seems to be a place where people connect, celebrate, and enjoy their community. In other words, the community has taken ownership of this wonderful location and it shines because of it.
Hosting sandy beaches, fishing piers, wading areas, picnic tables, grilling stands, and much more, the Pine River Dam Park features everything you’d want for a day on the water.
Sand Beach on Pelican Lake
Following a winding road along the southern end of the Breezy Point golf course, you’ll be able to find Sand Beach, a modest yet elegant beach. If you’re looking for a place to swim, build sand castles, and get your suntan on, you’ll be very happy with Sand Beach on the western edge of Pelican Lake. If you’re looking for a destination beach, a beach with picnic tables, playground equipment, boat launches, changing rooms, or even a lifeguard, you’ll want to keep moving because this only has the sand and the lake. But, what a lake!
The thing you’ll find about Pelican Lake (both Sand Beach and the South Tip beach) is that it is formed for a perfect day in the water. With a lakeshore that will go for hundreds of feet before deepening out, you’ll be sure to find a spot that is right for you and your kids.
The benefits of this beach are many. With a shallow waterline, that is roped in by buoys before the water gets too deep, you can feel relatively secure in the safety of your kids. (Always watch them, though!) If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, there is a deep drop off on the other side of the buoys, but it lasts for only twenty feet before a sandbar reaches up to give a feeling of standing in the middle of the lake. It’s kind of cool. On the downside, this beach doesn’t have the amenities you might be looking for when you’re out swimming. The parking is limited to on-street parking, so be sure to get there early.
Pelican Lake Beach (South Tip)
This is a classic for the Brainerd Lakes Area. Pelican Beach is known to anyone who grew up in the area as the beach to go to if you wanted to walk for miles with your feet in the water and never have the waterline go over your knees.
The hot sand is a small price to pay on a warm summer day, for the purpose of this beach is not the sun tanning or the grilling, but the wading. This beach is perfect for boisterous groups to get their frisbee on. It’s perfect for families that have children. It’s perfect for couples who want to wade through the water and chat.
Do not confuse this, though. There are spots for picnicking (there are even tables right on the beach) and grilling, and there is plenty of sand to pick from if you choose to sunbathe or book read. No, the true feature of this beach is the enormity of the water. You can go, literally, two hundred feet before the water line reaches past your waist. This is so nice as allows the beachgoers to be able to spread out in the water.
As I reviewed my notes on this beach, I had a tough time coming up with any negatives or critiques. Maybe the lack of shaded areas would be one, but that’s kind of a stretch because Pelican Lake Beach is about as perfect as a lakeside beach can be. Clean sand, long water, and wading for miles, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better beach in the area.