Alexandria Chain of Lakes, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

Also known as:  Lake Geneva, Lake Darling, Lake Carlos, Lake Le Homme Dieu, Lake Victoria, Lake Cowdry, Lake Jessie, North Union Lake, Lake Taylor, Lake Stony and Lake Brophy

A favorite for family vacations in Minnesota’s Central Lakes region is the group of lakes known as the Alexandria Chain of Lakes. The lakes nearly surround the small city of Alexandria, a couple of hours northwest of the Twin Cities. Easy access, a wide variety of water-based activities, and a wealth of vacation resources make the Alexandria Chain of Lakes highly attractive to those searching for a close-to-home getaway or vacation cottage. Typical descriptions of the chain include 11 lakes: Lake Darling, Lake Carlos, Lake Geneva, Lake Le Homme Dieu, Lake Victoria, Lake Cowdry, Lake Jessie, North Union Lake, Lake Taylor, Lake Stony and Lake Brophy. Although some sources state that all 11 lakes are navigable by interconnected channels, more recent information indicates that six lakes are navigable via channels: Lake Le Homme Dieu, Lake Carlos, Lake Geneva, Lake Victoria, Lake Darling, and Lake Jessie, although Lake Jessie may be accessible only by smaller fishing boats. Check with local marinas for the most up-to-date channel conditions before venturing out.

Several other relatively large lakes in the immediate area are not considered part of the ‘official’ Alexandria Chain but are popular housing spots, including Lake Louise, Lake Winona, Lake Agnes, Lake Henry, and Lake Latoka. Others are not developed and instead grace a wetland setting. Whatever your idea of an ideal lake, it likely can be found within this group.

Few statistics are available for some of the lakes. The five main lakes listed within the Alexandria Chain of Lakes serve to demonstrate the diversity of lakes left behind by the last glacier.

*Lake Carlos is the largest and deepest of the lakes with 2,520 surface acres and a maximum depth of 163 feet. Four public boat ramps are available, including two at the popular Lake Carlos State Park at the north end of the lake.

*Lake Le Homme Dieu, with 1,801 surface acres and a maximum depth of 85 feet, provides two public access areas where boats can be launched. The City of Alexandria provides a public swimming beach area along the southeast shore, while a second public beach can be found at the northern edge near the channel into Lake Carlos.

* Lake Darling stretches out over 1,050 acres with a maximum depth of 62 feet. It is connected to Lake Carlos via a channel.

* Lake Geneva covers 653 acres and reaches depths in ‘the holes’ of 63 feet. Two DNR boat ramps provide public access.

* Lake Victoria is the smallest of the five main lakes, covering 417 acres with a maximum depth of 60 feet. This lake is popular with fishermen. A public boat ramp and a fishing pier off County Road 23 at the south end make for easy public access, even for non-boaters.

Among other lakes in the area, public boat ramps are located at Lakes Louise, Cowdry, Brophy, Latoka, and Union.

The Alexandria Chain of Lakes is popular with water skiers, power boaters and pontoon sailors who enjoy such things as tubing and wakeboarding. Businesses at the lakes rent fishing boats, pontoons, jet skis and ski boats. Three restaurants can be reached by water along the chain. Several resorts, some of which have been in business for over 100 years, hold prominent spots along the shorelines and attract many families who rent a cottage for their summer vacation. Canoe access landings are available on several of the streams that enter the lakes, so paddlers can enjoy their canoes or kayaks in peace and serenity even on days when the main lakes are busy with boaters.

Fishing is always popular, with largemouth bass and walleye the most popular angling targets. Bluegill, black crappie and northern pike are also present, with one or another of the connected lakes always a hot fishing spot. The connecting canals mean fish can move from one lake to another, based on temperature, local conditions and feeding pressures. Bass tournaments are often held here. Ice fishing is popular in the winter, along with ice skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

The 1,200 acres within Lake Carlos State Park is particularly pleasant for cross-country skiing and nature hikes among a variety of ecosystems including tamarack bogs, ponds, wet meadows and marshes. Hunting is permitted in some areas during the season with applicable permit. Heron, ducks, beaver, deer, grebes and loons are often seen in the park, along with a variety of native animals and migrating birds. The Alexandria Chain of Lakes is also on the route of the 55-mile Central Lakes Trail. The well-used trail runs between Lake Geneva and Lake Victoria and also between Lake Darling and Lake Cowdry. Open to walking, biking and skating, the non-motorized trail becomes motorized in winter for snowmobiles. The paved trail, built along an old railroad bed, extends from Osakis to Fergus Falls. On the Osakis end, the trail connects to the Lake Wobegon Trail which in turn connects to the Morrison County Trail, making for a total length of about 130 miles of paved trail. Campers will find a number of campgrounds to choose from on and near the lakes, including the campsites at Lake Carlos State Park.

The City of Alexandria considers lake visitors its main business, providing information to help tourists connect with needed services and offering entertaining activities. Bicycles are rented locally, horseback riding is available, and local wineries offer tasting events. Some of the unusual attractions include the Runestone Museum, Fort Alexandria, and the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum. The Runestone Museum holds the world-famous Kensington Runestone, a purported 14th century artifact found a few miles away. Found in a farmer’s field before 1900, the battle is still raging in scientific circles as to the authenticity of the artifact. The actual spot where the inscribed stone was found is a few miles away and can be visited. The Museum itself also holds Native American artifacts and exhibits of native history in the region, displays of Norse history and pioneer life, exhibits of Minnesota wildlife, and a children’s hands-on area.

The replica Fort Alexandria displays an 1880’s school house, authentic log buildings, and in celebration of the ethnicity of many early Minnesota pioneers, a replica 40-foot Viking ship, the Snorri. The Maritime Museum features famous boat makers from the glory days of mahogany-crafted boats and racing such as Cris-Craft, Larson Boat Works and Gar Wood’s famed racing wins, along with collections of fishing memorabilia and pictures of the famous area resorts from the area’s early days.

The Visitors Center in Alexandria is open to provide maps and information on local lakes and attractions. A number of antique shops, artisan studios and unique shopping experiences are located in the area. The City of Alexandria offers regular outdoor concerts, a lecture series, a theatre group, and several nightlife venues. Lodgings are plentiful, including more than a dozen nearby hotels and motels, numerous resorts, private lakefront rentals and several RV parks. Real estate is often available on the Alexandria Chain of lakes and other nearby lakes. The lakes are located only two hours from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. No matter where your passions lie, the Alexandria Chain of Lakes delivers.

* Statistics listed are for Lake Carlos.

Things to do at Alexandria Chain of Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Alexandria Chain of Lakes

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Gar
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Alexandria Chain of Lakes Photo Gallery

Alexandria Chain of Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 2,520 acres

Average Depth: 46 feet

Maximum Depth: 163 feet

Drainage Area: 245 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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