Cross Lake, Minnesota, USA

Also known as:  Whitefish Chain of Lakes

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Cross Lake MN.

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Cross Lake MN visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

Cross Lake is one of 14 lakes in the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, which is the largest chain in the Brained area of Minnesota. Nestled in central Minnesota in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, Cross Lake is a recreational paradise that offers over 1,700 acres of water enjoyed by boaters, anglers, swimmers and water sports enthusiasts of all types.

Whitefish Chain of Lakes, also known as Pine River Reservoir, was authorized by the U.S. Congress and developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The project included construction of six headwater lake dams. The purpose was to form large reservoirs in the Mississippi headwaters that would help keep the Mississippi River navigable below St. Paul. Whitefish Chain of Lakes was created by constructing a dam on the Pine River, a tributary of the Mississippi River. The dam was built in 1884 and became operational in 1886. Water levels rose 10 feet after the dam was completed, connecting Cross Lake to Upper and Lower Whitefish Lakes. Reconstruction took place between 1905 and 1907. The lakes that are now a part of Whitefish Chain of Lakes are Upper Whitefish, Lower Whitefish, Big Trout, Clamshell, Hen, Island, Little Pine, Arrowhead, Bertha, Cross, Daggett, Lower Hay, Pig and Rush.

The Whitefish lakes are a popular vacation destination and a stunning place to live. Vacation rentals and real estate are abundant around the pristine shoreline of Cross Lake. Residents and vacationers can relax on their lakeside decks and drink in beautiful sunsets. For those who take pleasure in a more rustic vacation, the Cross Lake Recreation Area provides electric and non-electric campsites located in wooded settings. Also known as the Ronald Louis Cloutier Recreation Area, Cross Lake Recreation Area offers boat ramps, swimming beaches, picnic areas and a playground.

Each summer will find many boaters, anglers, campers, and swimmers enjoying the cool refreshing waters of Cross Lake. Anglers can cast in their line for northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and yellow perch. Boaters and water skiers better take to the water early in the day since Cross Lake can be teeming with water enthusiasts during midsummer. When the weather turns cold and the waters of Cross Lake freeze, lake visitors take pleasure in snowmobiling, ice skating, ice fishing and cross-country skiing.

For some off-water fun, visitors will find a host of other activities to keep them busy. With 25 golf courses within 30 miles of Whitefish Chain of Lakes, golfers are sure to find a course challenging enough for them. For a good view of the chain, visitors can take a picturesque drive on the National Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, which weaves its way around the lakes. After some sightseeing, visitors can grab a bit to eat or watch a movie in the nearby City of Crosslake.

Whether for relaxation or the excitement of water sports, Cross Lake provides something for everyone. Visitors can take pleasure in a day of play and unwind in the luxury of their vacation rentals or campground sites, while real estate owners can enjoy the beauty and fun atmosphere of Cross Lake year round.

Custom Cross Lake MN house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Cross Lake MN

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Ice Skating
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Playground

Fish species found at Cross Lake MN

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Whitefish
  • Yellow Perch

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Cross Lake MN

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Cross Lake MN photo gallery

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Cross Lake MN statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 1,751 acres

Shoreline Length: 20 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,230 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,227 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,235 feet

Maximum Depth: 84 feet

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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