South Center Lake

Explore South Center Lake, Downtown Center City and Pancake Island

Starting at the Kichisaga Regional Park Trailhead parking lot, check out the Karl Oscar House and read about Wilhelm Moberg’s “Emigrant” series.  It’ll tell you lots about the Swedish Migration to the United States in the 1850’s. Then portage to South Center Lake.  Maybe you should stop at the oldest Swedish Cemetery in MN, just east of the access.  From the access paddle north toward North Center.

Notice the Eagles Nest at the point of the peninsula before you turn into the channel under Highway 8.  Then paddle under the bridge into North Center and turn to the right and drop your canoe or kayak at the rack.  Head into town to have pizza at Pizza Pub or enjoy one of the best burgers around at Al’s Center Saloon.  Take a leisurely walk down the expansive, well one whole block long main street.  Visit Carroll Creek Primitives & Gifts or the Olde Theatre Antique Store or the best of all, Alan Honn Glass Studio.  After shopping, head up the hill to Chisago Lake Lutheran Church, a grand old church and where scenes from Grumpy Old Men was shot.  

Stay in Center City at the Summit Inn Bed & Breakfast or head back to your canoe and paddle to Pancake Island or down to Whispering Bay Campground.  Each offers a different level of comfort.  Make sure you stop for ice cream at Cotton Candy though.

Trip time: 4 hour roundtrip.  Spend the day enjoying Center City or, stay at a comfortable bed & breakfast or on primitive Pancake Island.  

Trip distance: A Short portage from KischiSaga Park to the South Center, 2 miles to Center City, 4 miles roundtrip, 6 miles if you visit Whispering Bay Campground.