Clermont Chain of Lakes, Florida, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Florida - East Central -

Also known as:  Lake Louisa, Lake Minnehaha, Lake Minneola, Lake Winona, Lake Susan, Lake Hiawatha, Lake Palatlakaha, Wilson Lake, Lake Crescent, Cook Lake, Lake Cherry, Lake Lucy, Lake Emma

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Water paradise awaits in East Central Florida: the Clermont Chain of Lakes offers over 9000 acres of water surface with additional miles of canals and rivers. Eleven of the 13 lakes in the chain are connected with channels and with stretches of the Palatlakaha River that remain navigable to small boats. The other two lakes are connected to each other, but separated from through-boat traffic by a water control structure on the Palatlakaha River. Located a few miles southwest of Orlando, the Clermont Chain of Lakes is one of central Florida’s hottest housing markets in the area and a popular destination for water sports lovers year round.

The larger lakes are popular for waterskiing and are densely populated with water lovers. The largest of the lakes are Lake Minneola (1,888 acres), Lake Minnehaha (2,298 acres), Lake Louisa (3,634 acres) and Cherry Lake (401 acres). All four are on the main portion of the chain along the river and easily accessed by water. Lake Winona (64 acres), Lake Palatlakaha (102 acres), Lake Hiawatha (49 acres), Wilson Lake (32 acres), Lake Susan (81 acres), Lake Crescent (122 acres) and Cook Lake (21 acres) are all peripherally-connected lakes either by river or manmade canal. Located near the town of Groveland, Lake Lucy (346 acres) and Lake Emma (173 acres) are often considered as part of the chain due to their location on the Palatlakaha River. The highest elevation among the lakes is a normal 97 feet at Lake Susan.

Palatlakaha Run, the longest water trail in the Lake County Blueways system, offers over 26 miles of paddling enjoyment along the chain. The deepest spots in the entire chain are about 26 feet with the majority considerably shallower. The unpopulated areas of the shorelines are wetlands harboring a wide variety of native wildlife. Attractive moss-draped cypress trees line the canals and shelter many of the shorelines-the perfect backdrop for a scenic kayak trip. The Clermont Chain of Lakes is one of the most pristine in central Florida, but water color varies according to water source. Some lakes are primarily spring-fed and clear, while others gain their water from nearby Green Swamp and offer water tinted by tannin. The brown color does not indicate poor water quality however, and these darker lakes are often preferred for swimming as the lack of light penetration keeps the water temperatures cooler than in clearer lakes.

Two marinas are located on the lakes, one at Lake Minnehaha and the other at Lake Susan. The marina at Lake Minnehaha offers some boat rentals and rental slips for local boaters, and Lake Susan sells boat gas. Several public boat ramps are located on the chain; some allow launching for a small fee, and many commercial facilities offer boat launching from their docks. The main boating lane north from Lake Louisa has directional signage for the convenience of boaters. A swimming beach is offered on the south side of Lake Louisa at Lake Louisa State Park. The lakes are well-known for being excellent fishing lakes, with smallmouth bass, redear sunfish, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill and channel catfish most often caught. Most of the lakes have fallen trees and dredge holes acting as fish attractants; these are marked by buoys. Several fishing piers offer shore fishing and access to the disabled. A Florida fishing license is required.

The City of Clermont is widely known as the ‘wakeboarding capital of the world,’ with a year-round camp dedicated solely to teaching the skill of wakeboarding. Clermont has a boat ramp and public beach at Waterfront Park on Lake Minneola and offers rentals of bicycles and kayaks to access both the chain of lakes and the many trails in the area. The South Lake Trail, popular with walkers and rollerblade fans, is a ‘Rails to Trails” path that connects to the West Orange Trail. Half- and full-day paddling tours can be arranged here from the rental facility. The Great Clermont Triathlon is held here each year, taking advantage of the water and trails in the area. The towns of Clermont, Montverde, Minneola and Groveland offer several forms of lodgings to suit the visiting Lakelubber. Chain hotels join small resorts, campgrounds and RV parks to house visitors, while a few weekly private rentals can also be found. Real estate is mostly upscale, with new gated communities being developed every year. Many small unusual shops and artisan galleries offer the best of eclectic shopping, while cafes and restaurants cater to every taste.

Lake Louisa State Park holds about 60 full-service campsites and two primitive camping areas suitable for tent campers. Several equestrian camping sites offer convenient access for horse owners who enjoy the horseback trails in the area. A boat ramp and picnic grounds make this a popular spot to access the chain of lakes, while four other lakes in the park are available to non-motorized fishing boats. The park is relatively new and shade trees are still small, so there isn’t currently much shade but it is improving with every year of growth.

Currently, the Clermont Chain of Lakes is suffering from years of extended drought and the changes brought about by population growth. Lake levels have been considerably below normal for several years. In addition, unwanted algae growth began to appear. Serious study in the past three years has discovered several issues that are causing many of the problems. In addition to low record rainfall, a number of roads built for agricultural purposes had diverted some of the available water away from the chain and into a nearby river watershed. Sporadic heavy rains falling on Green Swamp washed excess nutrients into the lake chain, and almost 200 storm water drainage tiles were directing nutrient-heavy storm run-off into the water without treatment. Changes are now underway to pre-treat storm run-off before it enters the lakes, and future building projects will be more cognizant of the area’s delicate hydrology. There is little that can be done to alleviate the prolonged drought, usually part of a historic ten-year cycle. It is expected the the Clermont Chain of Lakes will recover when the cycle of drought ends. And the local population will now know how to best deal with it.

So, come visit the beautiful Clermont Chain of Lakes. Bring the waterskis and the fishing gear.

* Statistics for these lakes are often contradictory. The acreage figures used are those most commonly reported, while the few elevations and depths come from the Lake County Water Atlas. Statistics listed in the sidebar information are for Lake Louisa only.

Things to do at Clermont Chain of Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Clermont Chain of Lakes

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish

Clermont Chain of Lakes Photo Gallery

Clermont Chain of Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 3,634 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 97 feet

Maximum Depth: 16 feet

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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