Lake Calhoun, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro -

Also known as:  Minneapolis Chain of Lakes

Thousands of people come to Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes every year. The five beautiful lakes (Lake Harriet, Cedar Lake, Brownie Lake, Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun) are connected by channels and a 12-mile system of recreational paths making it the place to be for anyone that loves all the activity of a major lake park set in the backdrop of a buzzing and dynamic city. Lake Calhoun, the largest of the five, offers no shortage in play and amusement. On an average summer day you will see the sails of windsurfers and sailboats, fishers lounging on the waters waiting for a catch, and canoeists gracefully cutting the surface of the water. Around the lake, pathways accommodate walkers, runners, bicyclists, and skaters. Three guarded beaches provide swim areas, and in the surrounding park you will find archery, eateries, picnic areas, a soccer field, a volleyball court, a softball field, drinking fountains and wells.

In this “city of lakes,” Lake Calhoun is the home of the Lake Calhoun Sailing School and is also the popular site of yacht racing and competitions. In 1817, it was named after John Caldwell Calhoun (1782-1850), who served as a United States Senator, Vice President, and Secretary of War and who was a controversial politician to say the least. As Secretary of War, Calhoun authorized the establishment of Fort Snelling, which brought settlement to the area. Before Calhoun’s surveyors came to the area however, the land and lakes were home to Dakota people, who called the lake “Medoza” or “Lake of the Loons.” Fishing the lake provided subsistence for the Dakotas, and they also harvested its wild rice, fruits and berries. Today, it is hard to imagine wild rice, fruits, berries or loons for that matter on the lake. Formed by Minnesota’s last glacial events thousands of years ago, the lake’s habitat has evolved to an urban oasis, surrounded by the pace, traffic and myriad amusements of a big city. But the lakes and their surrounding wetlands still support a variety of wildlife, especially birds. Even bald eagles are seen on Lake Calhoun.

The water offers up a great fishery. Black crappie, bluegill, bowfin, common carp, hybrid sunfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, pumpkinseed sunfish, tiger muskellunge, walleye, white sucker and yellow perch are the range of species living in Lake Calhoun’s deep waters. Anglers will have a ball with reputable, large-sized largemouth with a view of the city skyline hugging the distant shores. Gas motors are not allowed on the lake, and electric motors are allowed only with a permit, but there are plenty of boat rentals available so you have options.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro region is vibrant with activity. Cutting edge museum exhibits, art, live performances, competitive shopping and dining and all kinds of events and nuances are the city’s norm. The Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway is a great way to get to know the area and encompasses all of the Chain of Lakes. The byway will take you through seven of Minneapolis’ most picturesque and historically momentous districts. From Lake Calhoun as a starting point, you can visit the bird sanctuary near Lake Harriet, a stopover for migratory birds. Visit the 53 foot Minnehaha Falls, the Mississippi River Gorge, the cosmopolitan downtown area and the Theodore Wirth Park, the largest regional park in Minneapolis.

Your real estate options are truly limitless on and around Lake Calhoun. Minneapolis boasts a range of apartments, condominiums, and duplexes suitable for the typical urban dweller. Family homes and expensive lakeshore residences, more suitable for the relaxed-pace person, offer more privacy, space, comfort and luxury. Vacation rentals run the gamut from studios to condos to cabins.

Lake Calhoun is a little bit of peace in a lot of bit of action. If this defines what you’re looking for then the Chain of Lakes is where you should be.

Things to do at Lake Calhoun

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Calhoun

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Bowfin
  • Carp
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Sucker
  • Sunfish
  • Tiger Muskellunge
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Lake Calhoun Photo Gallery

Lake Calhoun Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Surface Area: 422 acres

Average Depth: 35 feet

Maximum Depth: 90 feet

Water Volume: 14,593 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 4.2 years

Drainage Area: 5 sq. miles

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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