Blue Lake, Alaska, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Alaska - Inside Passage -

Also known as:  Blue Lake Reservoir

Blue Lake, located in the Alaska Panhandle of southeastern Alaska, is for adventure seekers. The County of Sitka is known for its vistas, mountain backdrop and thick forests. Construction of the Blue Lake Dam in 1958 increased the surface area of natural Blue Lake from 490 acres to 1,225 acres, and raised the elevation from 208 feet above sea level to 342. Blue Lake Reservoir provides hydroelectric power and drinking water to Sitka County. Although the City of Sitka does not permit swimming in the reservoir, Blue Lake is enjoyed by anglers, campers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. Nearby campgrounds with lake views provide easy access to hiking trails. Campers should obtain a permit from the City.

Blue Lake’s major inflow is Blue Lake Creek and its major outflow is Sawmill Creek. Inflow into the reservoir is greatest during the summer and fall from snowmelt and rain flow. Inflow is lowest in mid-winter because precipitation is stored as snow pack. Demand for electricity is highest in winter and lowest in summer. Due to these seasonal fluctuations in precipitation and electricity demand, the elevation of Blue Lake can range from 280 feet above sea level in winter to 342 feet in summer (spillway elevation).

Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy the challenging terrain that the trails of Blue Lake present. Because the lake is partially surrounded by glacier, trails can be dangerous. One of the most popular and challenging trails is Deer Mountain Trail. The trailhead begins in downtown Ketchikan and climbs over 3,000 feet. The trail offers breathtaking panoramic views of mountain peaks, forests, islands and ocean. Deer Mountain Trail is equipped with two shelters, one at Deer Mountain Lake and one at Blue Lake. This is a thrilling experience unique to the trails of Blue Lake. However, it is only for the experienced hiker, as the trails are narrow and wind through mountainous terrain. The steep terrain creates potential for avalanches.

Bird watchers and nature enthusiasts will enjoy observing animals in their natural habitat around Blue Lake. Large mammal species include brown bear, Sitka black-tailed deer, and mountain goat. Smaller mammals inhabit the Blue Lake basin, such as the playful river otter, beaver, pine marten, and mink. Blue Lake is also a resting stop-over for migrating waterfowl, including trumpeter swan, tundra swan, pintail, green-wing teal, hooded merganser, northern shoveler, redhead and lesser and greater scaup. Visitors may also observe bald eagle, dipper, and American merganser in the Sawmill Creek basin. Because different animals appear at different times of the year, a visit to Blue Lake during each season will be a unique experience.

Access for recreational fishing is along Blue Lake’s south shore from small boats that are carried into the area. Limited road passage prevents boat trailer access. Blue Lake is a deep (468 feet maximum depth), cold lake with a significant population of Rainbow Trout. Bank anglers cast their lines in Sawmill Creek for Pink Salmon, Chum Salmon, Coho Salmon, King Salmon, and Steelhead Trout.

Blue Lake is located about 94 miles from the Juneau International Airport. Juneau is the nearest large city to Sitka County. Come visit Blue Lake to get away from the stresses of everyday life. Take up bird watching, skiing, hiking, or snowmobiling, Become one with nature as you soak in the beauty of Blue Lake Reservoir.

Things to do at Blue Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Blue Lake

  • Chinook Salmon
  • Coho Salmon
  • Pink Salmon
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Steelhead Trout
  • Trout

Blue Lake Photo Gallery

    Blue Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Sitka County

    Surface Area: 1,225 acres

    Shoreline Length: 8 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 342 feet

    Average Depth: 171 feet

    Maximum Depth: 468 feet

    Water Volume: 145,200 acre-feet

    Lake Area-Population: 8,700

    Drainage Area: 37 sq. miles

    At LakeLubbers.com, we strive to keep our information as accurate and up-to-date as possible, but if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you!
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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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