Elizabeth Lake, Illinois & Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Illinois - Northern - Wisconsin - Lake Michigan Region -

Also known as:  Lake Elizabeth, Twin Lakes

Lake Elizabeth or Elizabeth Lake, as it is more commonly known, has been a vacation getaway for over 150 years. Located in the Northern Region of Illinois and the Lake Michigan Region of Wisconsin, Elizabeth Lake is one of a pair of lakes along the Illinois-Wisconsin border that are often referred to as Twin Lakes. The two glacial pothole lakes are separated by a narrow finger of land with a short stretch of waterway connecting them. The twin lakes were named for the twin daughters of one of the earliest settles to the region: Elizabeth and Mary Ineson. It is unknown what the lakes were called earlier but the first large hotel — Akerman’s Resort — was built in 1835 before they were born.

The area around Elizabeth Lake was popular with summer visitors from Milwaukee and Chicago. By the 1850s, ice was being harvested on Elizabeth Lake. More large hotels were built through 1920, when Wisconsin’s largest ballroom, known as the Twin Lakes Ball Room, was erected. The Village of Twin Lake was finally incorporated in 1937. The popularity of the lakes continued unabated through and beyond the era of the big resort hotel. Summer residences were built along the shores and generations of families returned each year to swim, fish and boat on the waters of Elizabeth Lake.

Today, two-thirds of the residences are year-round homes, and some old hotel properties have given way to condos. Twin Lakes has matured into a pleasant but modern village complete with all the necessary city services. The people of Twin Lakes are committed to preserving both their lakes and their vibrant community. As evidence of the cross-boarder cooperation common in the area, the Wisconsin town of Twin Lakes owns access to the small Elizabeth Lake dam located in the Illinois town of Richmond. Intended only to maintain lake levels, the dam keeps levels within an 11-inch range year round.

All types of water sports can be engaged in on Elizabeth Lake. The large lake lends itself to water skiing, tubing, sailing and jet skiing as well as canoeing, kayaking, pontooning, wake boarding and swimming.The south end of the lake is a strict no-wake zone to protect the excellent bog areas of Elizabeth Lake Nature Preserve.

Known as an excellent fishing destination, the Elizabeth Lake fishery contains a variety of game fish. It is especially known for great catches of northern pike, bluegill and largemouth bass. Walleye, crappie and smallmouth bass are also caught. There is a public boat ramp on the west side of the lake and boat rentals are available nearby. Pontoon boats can also be rented by the day for a more leisurely cruise and are an excellent way to take children on their first fishing excursion. As a precautionary measure, those planning to eat their catch should check the Wisconsin Fish Consumption Guidelines.

The lakeshore of Elizabeth Lake is quite heavily developed on the Wisconsin portion. Nearly all residential properties are located on the Wisconsin side of the state line; much of the Illinois side is State land in the form of Elizabeth Lake Nature Preserve. The Preserve is a diverse wetland composed of calcareous floating mat, marsh, pond, graminoid fen, graminoid bog, lake, low gradient creek, sedge meadow, and dry-mesic savanna. Graminoid bog is a rare natural community, considered to be the first stage in bog succession. Always floating above water and often in the vicinity of more open waters, this type of bog is dominated by sphagnum moss, sedges, and marsh shield fen. Access to the preserve is restricted to tours sponsored by the McHenry County Conservation District to protect the varied and rare plants, birds and butterflies. Endangered or rare cuckoo flowers, pugnose shiners, Iowa darters, sandhill cranes, and black terns can all be found within the nature preserve. Considered to be the highest quality lake in McHenry County IL, Elizabeth Lake has 29 species of native fish, at least 200 species of plant life, 55 species of birds, 15-20 butterfly species, and 20 state endangered or threatened species. Because the wake from high-speed boats can cause great damage to the floating bog, the no-wake areas are strictly enforced.

Off-lake activities are plentiful around Elizabeth Lake and the Village of Twin Lakes. Wednesdays and Saturdays the Aquanuts, a troupe of local water-skiers, put on a free show on Lake Mary. The Country Thunder Music Festival is held here annually, with several days of camping and nationally-known music stars. Several excellent golf courses are located nearby. Five village parks provide a basketball court, baseball diamond, playground equipment, sledding, tennis courts, skateboarding, walking trails, boat launch and restrooms. The village holds regular festival events and parades centered around holidays for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike.

In winter, ice fishing and snowmobiling are popular activities. Local clubs maintain groomed trails for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Several eating establishments around the lakes soon make visitors feel like ‘regulars’, as do the local pubs. Less than 15 miles northeast of Twin Lakes, Bong State Recreation Area offers hiking trails, fishing, hunting and interpretive guides. South of Elizabeth Lake, the 26-mile Prairie Trail can be accessed at Richmond, IL. The trail is popular for mountain biking and hiking. Twenty-five miles east, Kenosha sports a greyhound racetrack, Lake Michigan beach, museums, parks and a community college. Downtown Chicago is only 70 miles away, making Elizabeth Lake an idea spot for a weekend getaway.

Vacation rentals abound around the Twin Lakes. From cottages and cabins to large residential homes, hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, condos and campgrounds, the ideal lodgings for your visit can be easily found here. Real estate is always available, often lakefront or with lake views. So, pack up the kids, the boat and maybe even the cousins; Elizabeth Lake is waiting for your visit. Come up to Twin Lakes and see what you’ve been missing.

Things to do at Elizabeth Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Elizabeth Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Crappie
  • Darter
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Elizabeth Lake Photo Gallery

Elizabeth Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Twin Lakes Sewer Dept

Surface Area: 638 acres

Shoreline Length: 6 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 793 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 793 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 794 feet

Average Depth: 17 feet

Maximum Depth: 32 feet

Water Volume: 6,900 acre-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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