Chicagon Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Upper Peninsula -

Also known as:  Chicaugon Lake

Chicagon Lake lies in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula only a few miles from the Wisconsin state line. The 1000-acre natural lake isn’t well-known except for the generations of lakelubbers who have returned here year after year. That’s probably the reason why much of the lakeshore still remains wooded and natural, imparting a real ‘up-north’ feel to those lucky few who have found it. In actuality, the lake was ‘found’ many years ago. When European adventurers arrived, a band of Ojibwa Native Americans already made their home along the shore, clearing the surrounding forests to plant their fields of corn. Also known as the Chippewa, these people called the lake Ga-no-na-co-si-kag (trout) Sa-ka-egon (lake). The name Chicagon is likely a misinterpretation of Sa-ka-egon. The Ojibwa, relocated to the area from New York state, held the land patent on much of the land in the area until 1891. The remains of their burial structures still stand within Pentoga Park along the southern shore.

Chicagon Lake offers all types of water recreation to residents and visitors: The pristine lake is a favorite spot for swimming, boating, sailing and water-skiing. There is little commercial development on the lake. Most people stock up on supplies in either Crystal Falls or Iron River, a few miles to the east or west respectively. The rugged, tree-lined shoreline holds a number of summer cottages and year-round homes. There is no public marina and just one public boat launch on Chicagon Lake, which limits the number of visitors. Lakefront property owners share their lake primarily with fishermen. At least one resort rents cottages by the week to visitors, many of whom return yearly. Another lodge also rents rooms to vacationers. The lake remains quiet and serene, inviting to both wildlife and nature lovers.

Pentoga Park is located on the southern tip of Chicagon Lake. This park offers a campground with full amenities, playground, picnic pavilions, swim area, concession stand, park store and boat launch. Iron County purchased the land for this park in 1924 as a tribute to the Native Americans that congregated here, and to preserve their burial grounds. A few of their burial enclosures can still be seen here. The park is where most day visitors access the lake. A major, championship golf course nearby overlooks the lake with lovely lake views from the ‘back nine’, another drawing card that makes Chicagon Lake a desirable destination. The few roads along the lakeshore are not busy and make for excellent walking and nature-watching strolls.

Fishing is a major attraction at Chicagon Lake and accounts for many of the guests at both the lodge and the resort. The lake holds walleyes, northern pike, muskellunge, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rock bass, yellow perch, crappies, pumpkinseed, lake trout, brown trout, whitefish and lake herring. Chicagon Lake has developed a reputation as an excellent fishery for champion walleye and muskellunge. Although parts of the lake reach 115-feet in depth, other areas are shallower, with underwater shoals and emergent weeds. This varied fish habitat provides good structure for a variety of fish. The lake hosts ice fishermen in winter who hope for a catch of perch, northern pike and panfish.

With nearby Iron River as the hub of the 300 miles of snowmobile trails in Iron County, many winter visitors make a snow holiday out of their visit to Chicagon Lake. One of the trails skirts the lake itself, so it is convenient to use Chicagon Lake as home base for snowmobiling. Networked as it is with old decommissioned railroad beds left over from its mining days, Iron County could easily be called the snowmobiling capital of the Midwest. From here, snowmobilers can travel connecting trails all across the Upper Peninsula and into northern Wisconsin on excellent groomed trails. This same trail network makes for excellent cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. In the warmer season, the trails provide hiking paths, with some open for off-road vehicle use. If downhill skiing is what visitors desire, the biggest ski resort in the Upper Peninsula is less than ten miles from Chicagon Lake. Several other well-known downhill ski areas are also located within 30 miles of the lake.

To understand Michigan history, one has to explore this rugged western U.P. location at least once. This area of Michigan was actually settled before most of the warmer, flatter and more hospitable Lower Peninsula. The area was both logged for timber and mined for valuable ores, principle among them copper and iron. The hills and ravines that make up the ‘Iron Range’ drew husky immigrants from all over Europe who hoped to find a better future. Many towns were settled by Welsh, Scandinavians, Germans and the natives of Eastern European countries. Entire towns were abandoned when the iron ore played out and the timber was gone, leaving the area dotted with the ruins of old smelters, farmsteads and the artifacts of a bygone era. The immigrants, now fully American in outlook, moved south to the more hospitable farmlands of the Lower Peninsula. For history buffs, the Upper Peninsula is a gold mine in its own right: nearly every town has a historical museum that preserves both the records and the items of daily living these pioneers left behind. The Harbour House Museum is located in Crystal Falls, and the Iron County Historical Museum Complex is located in Iron River. The Complex is Upper Michigan’s largest local museum, covering 10 acres on a former mine site, with 26 building, over 100 major exhibits and three special arts galleries. Both museums are located within 10 miles of Chicagon Lake.

Although Chicagon Lake seems remote, it is closer to the major cities in Wisconsin than to the Lower Peninsula. Green Bay is 130 miles, Milwaukee 230 miles, and Chicago Illinois 320 miles away. Rentals can often be found either along the lake itself or on the lakes nearby. Several bed-and-breakfasts are located in the area, and modern lodgings are available in both Crystal Falls and Iron River. Real estate is sometimes available on the lakefront for those lucky enough to buy. So bring the fishing boat and the golf clubs, or the snowmobile and the skis and come for a week to Chicagon Lake. You will have discovered your own treasure in Iron County. We hope you’ll stay.

Things to do at Chicagon Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Museum
  • Ruins
  • Playground

Fish species found at Chicagon Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Crappie
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Whitefish
  • Yellow Perch

Chicagon Lake Photo Gallery

Chicagon Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,075 acres

Shoreline Length: 9 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,430 feet

Maximum Depth: 115 feet

Lake Area-Population: 1,800

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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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