Greening grass and sunshine- the perfect ingredients for a picnic. The Whitefish Chain area happily supplies both, as well as beautiful views, fresh breezes and singing songbirds.
There are several great places to have a picnic, but if you’d like to grill up some burgers or brats, the Crosslake Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Area is a great place to visit. There are several picnic tables with nearby barbecue stands (bring your own charcoal or wood), including many that are covered. Nearly all the tables have lovely views of the water. The park also has restrooms, a playground, swimming beach and two fishing piers- one on the river and another on the lake. The park is located in the heart of Crosslake, at the intersection of County Roads 3 and 66.
Ideal Township Park has a roofed pavilion with barbecue stands that’s great for picnics and within view of the playground- so parents can watch children play while eating or visiting. The Ideal Township Park also has an outdoor fire truck museum, where kids and adults alike can learn about the past and present of the Ideal Volunteer Fire Department. You can see the department’s original truck and push buttons that make the lights flash and sirens wail. Despite the local catch phrase of “Where in the heck is Ideal Corners?!” You’ll find the park is easy to spot on County Road 16, 7.5 miles east from the intersection with Hwy. 371 or 5 miles west from the intersection of County Road 16 and County Road 66.
The lake access on Big Trout Lake also offers a great place for a picnic, with a picnic table on a wide, sandy beach that looks out over the water. The access is located north of Crosslake on County Road 66, and in the summer the beach is a great place for swimming. The sandy shore may also yield a few agates.
Pequot Lakes’ Trailside Park has a brand new playground with nearby covered area with picnic tables. After playing on the playground, check out the Veteran’s Memorial and Dru’s Garden, a flower garden dedicated to Dru Sjodin. Public restrooms are located at the nearby chamber of commerce welcome building.
If you have access to a boat, consider heading out onto the Whitefish Chain to the Rollie Johnson Natural and Recreational Area, which is open to both day use and campers. The three islands that make up the recreation area are located between Upper and Lower Whitefish Lakes, and each have campsites with picnic tables and fire rings where visitors or campers can cook up some food. While you’re there, check out the Trillium Trail, which leads through the rare maple-basswood forest on Big Island.
Finally, The Pine River Dam Park is a great place to visit for a picnic. With a pavilion covering picnic tables, there’s a playground and swimming beach above the dam, while the area below the dam makes for scenic fishing. After all, the Pine River is the source that feeds the Whitefish Chain, so beauty is in its nature. The park is located in the town of Pine River on Barclay Avenue, just east of Hwy. 371.