Channel Lake, Illinois, USA

Also known as:  Fox Chain O'Lakes

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Channel Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Channel Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Channel Lake

Over 7,000 acres of water make up the lakes in the Fox Chain O’Lakes in northeastern Illinois. With almost 500 shoreline miles lined with vacation rentals, resorts, and restaurants, the Chain draws almost 60,000 visitors on summer weekends. The entire Fox Chain O’Lakes is navigable with hundreds of miles of water stretched out along the Fox River for boating, fishing and exploring. Nine major lakes make up the Fox Chain O’Lakes. Water level control on the chain is controlled by a series of dams on the Fox River. The dams, under the control of the Illinois Division of Water Resources, maintain recreational water levels and control flooding.

Channel Lake is the northernmost lake in the Chain and a fantastic start to a Fox Chain O’Lakes getaway. Channel Lake and Lake Catherine comprise the northern start of the Chain — from the surface, what looks like one lake is actually two separate lakes, since Channel Lake and Lake Catherine are separated by a submerged ridge. Lake Catherine is 155 acres with an average depth of 45 feet and is the smaller of the two lakes; access to the lake is through one of the public boat ramps. Channel Lake offers 352 acres with several public boat ramps and additional access from private concessions.

Downstream, Lake Marie has a sandy bottom and promises fantastic fishing. There are several boat ramps with access to the 480-acre lake. Bluff Lake is just 86 acres and is known for its exceptional shoreline fishing. Petite Lake has 167 acres of water and offers abundant populations of perch. With an average depth of three feet, Grass Lake is the shallowest lake on the Chain and one of the three major lakes that border the Chain O’Lakes State Park. Grass Lake has 1,360 acres of water and, like the other Chain lakes, it has very good fishing. Fox Lake, with its 1,700 acres of water for both anglers and boaters, is known for its great catfish and crappie fishing. At 420 acres, Nippersink Lake connects to Fox Lake. The southernmost lake in the Chain, 1,700-acre Pistakee Lake, has plenty of room for boating and abundant populations of fish.

Fishing along the entire Fox Chain O’Lakes is excellent and each lake boasts its own specialty. The Chain has been stocked with walleye since 1978, and the entire Chain is full of muskie, largemouth bass, yellow perch and crappie. Additionally, Channel Lake is known for its bass and northern pike.

Downstream from Channel Lake, the Chain O’Lakes State Park borders three of the Chain lakes and bumps up against a 3,230-acre conservation area. The 840-acre park was established in 1945. Today, trails for hiking and horseback riding cross the 2,450-acre park that also offers overnight campgrounds. Hunting is permitted in season for doves and waterfowl; there is an archery season for deer. In the winter there is ice fishing and cross-country skiing.

The Fox Chain O’Lakes is public navigable waterway managed by the Fox Waterway Agency and under the Department of Transportation, the Division of Waterways, and the Department of Conservation. The Chain covers part of Lake and McHenry Counties and dips as close as 40 miles northwest of Chicago in the Chicagoland region of Illinois. Channel Lake is located just a few miles from the Village of Antioch. Established in 1836, Antioch sits between Chicago and Milwaukee and is considered the gateway to the Chain O’Lakes. Additionally, Antioch is only a few miles from Lake Michigan. Visitors can stroll through the charming historic shopping district and pause to shop or lunch at one of the many stores and restaurants. For anyone intending to extend their stay in the Chain O’Lakes area, there is real estate available for sale in Antioch and the surrounding communities.

Channel Lake and its sister Lake Catherine have hundreds of acres filled with fsh and amenities lining their shores; restaurants, marinas, and vacaton rentals are all available from the water. Channel Lake is the perfect starting point for a Fox Chain O’Lakes getaway, and the gateway to over 7,000 acres of water, fish, and fun.

Things to Do at Channel Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Shopping

Fish Species Found at Channel Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Find Places to Stay at Channel Lake

If you’re considering a Channel Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Channel Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Channel Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Channel Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Illinois Dept. of Transportation-Division of Water Resources

Surface Area: 352 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 737 feet

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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