Harmon Lake

For those craving peaceful waters under the North Dakota skies, the Harmon Lake Recreation Area offers an opportunity to build a sandcastle on the beach, dip a paddle in the pond or spin a tire on a trail.

The 136-acre reservoir located on Otter Creek has nearly 5 miles of shoreline, and getting to the water is easy, with a swimming area on an expansive sandy beach.

Or cast a line for northern pike, crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass or rainbow trout, launching from a public boat ramp with a dock. The lake also has a floating fishing pier.

Located approximately 8 miles north of Mandan along Highway 1806 and off County Road 140, Harmon Lake Recreation Area is owned by the Morton County Water Resource District and managed by the Morton County Parks Department.

Mountain biking and water recreation are the biggest draws to the lake, says Tim Nilsen, director of the Morton County Parks Department.

The Jeff and Jen Defoe family operates Paddle On North Dakota, a rental business at the lake that makes getting on the water easy, too.

Rentals include paddleboards, canoes, tandem and single kayaks and mega paddleboards that can comfortably hold about seven people.

“We get families with kids and they like to take those out,” Jen says. Paddle On can be contacted at 701-663-5580. For rental details, visit www.paddleonnd.com.

Launch from the kayak launching dock, then glide across Harmon Lake.

“Harmon Lake has a lot of great nature and a lot of trees and wildflowers,” Jen says. “There’s a nice creek that feeds Harmon Lake and if you go way back into that, it’s lovely, very peaceful out there. And, of course, the sandy beach is a big draw.”

Paddleboard yoga is a popular activity at Harmon Lake, with instructors leading yoga on boards in the water.

Off the water, the area has an extensive trail system, with 19.2 miles for mountain biking, hiking or birding.

The looped trail means the scenery is never the same.

“You can ride 19 miles and never go over the same path,” Nilsen says. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best in the state. You can start out in one place and end up back at the same point and not ride back over the same track.”

The area is open year-round, with limited facilities during the winter.

Camping includes 43 sites with electricity, with two group pads which can be reserved by calling the Morton County Parks Department at 701-667-3363. Among the five picnic shelters, four can be reserved. Beyond that, camping is first-come, first-served. A campground host is onsite from Memorial Day through mid-October.

Luann Dart is a freelance writer and editor who lives in the Elgin area.


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