Lake Griffin, Florida, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Florida - East Central -

Headwaters of the Ocklawaha River, 9,500-acre Lake Griffin offers a bit of everything to Harris Chain of Lakes visitors. The long, shallow lake is the terminus of the chain which includes Lake Harris, Little Lake Harris, Lake Dora, Lake Beauclair, Lake Carlton, Lake Eustis and several canals. Mostly suitable for smaller boats, the Chain has heavy boating activity during nice water, including power boats with water skiers, pontoon boats, bass boats, canoes and kayaks. Lake Griffin has far more natural shoreline remaining than other lakes in the Chain. That means one’s chances of seeing wildlife in their natural setting are better, making it a favorite of photographers and nature lovers.

The Harris Chain of Lakes is enhanced for boat travel with several dams and locks maintaining water levels and providing passage for small boats. The Moss Bluff Dam on the Ocklawaha River keeps Lake Griffin’s water levels stable. A system of lighted directional signs guide boaters through what can appear to be a labyrinth of waterways in some areas. Several fueling locations on the bigger lakes assure boaters will have adequate fuel for a day of fun on the water. Two marinas on Lake Griffin offer slip space, supplies and fishing necessities. Several boat launch ramps allow public access to the water, and a number of private resort docks will permit launches for a small fee. The lake has for many years been a well-known location to spend a week at a fishing resort where a guide will assure that visitors catch some of the ‘big ones’. Increasingly, these fish camps are becoming popular with paddle sports fans who wish to enjoy the local flora and fauna. Many Florida residents claim they saw their first alligator here, no doubt because many areas of the shoreline remain wetlands. The Haynes Creek Canal leads boaters to Lake Eustis to the east.

The Lake Griffin State Park and Recreation Area treats campers to a small campground with few modern campsite amenities but does provide copious amounts of shade under live oaks. In fact, one of the nation’s oldest live oaks holds an honored place in the park. Canoes and kayaks can be rented in the park with which to reach Lake Griffin down a short channel. A number of walking trails can be enjoyed through the recreation area. For those wishing to get away from the noise of the larger Florida vacation spots, Lake Griffin State Park offers a welcome respite.

Two small cities share portions of the shoreline: Fruitland Park and Leesburg both hold a small corner of the western lakefront. Both have fishing piers and boat launch facilities. Fishing is popular on the lake, with largemouth bass attracting the most attention. The lake also holds crappie, bluegill, catfish and sunfish, favorites among the youngsters. Both towns offer supplies, needed services, shopping and entertainment. Both offer parks and walking trails so residents and visitors can get out and enjoy the outdoors.

Lake Griffin has suffered for several years from poor water quality, but that is changing. Early efforts at drainage for farming purposes and development upset the balance of water in many areas. Early channelization of creeks for water transportation and dams to stabilize water levels also aided in a decline of water quality and the natural flushing action of wetlands and swamps. Recently, concerns about lowered water levels led to the realization that, either there was less outflow coming from the lakes into the rivers or that the previous flows had been improperly measured. Larger populations have lowered the water tables in some of Florida’s aquifers in recent years, and those aquifers exchange water with many of the lakes under certain circumstances. Several recent years of drought have compounded the problems.

Studies showed the lakes were receiving too many nutrients from farm run-off leading to degraded water quality. Years of study convinced the St. Johns River Water Management District and its local partners to apply for grants from federal and state governments to buy much of the farmland near both Lake Griffin and Lake Apopka to the south. Allowing those lands to revert to natural wetlands have begun to clean the lake naturally, and water quality is steadily improving.

Several natural areas near the lake offer excellent bird-watching opportunities. Covering a large area near the lakeshore at the entrance to the Haynes Creek Canal, the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area preserves over 7,000 acres of restored wetland eco-systems. Restoring the previously drained farm and pasture land to its natural condition allows the marsh to filter the water from Lake Griffin, resulting in better water quality. In the process, several types of wetland ecosystems have developed, attracting a treasure trove of wildlife and birds. A 4.3-mile elevated drive through the conservation area was constructed on top of the dikes in the treatment marsh; it allows observers to see the birds and wildlife in their natural habitat without disturbing them. The Bourlay Historic Nature Park in Leesburg preserves both a historic steamboat landing on Lake Griffin, an old “shotgun-style cracker house” and an additional 88-acre section of natural habitat along the lake open to the public for picnicking, trail walking mountain biking, kayaking and bird watching.

Hotel and motel lodgings are available in Fruitland Park and Leesburg, while fish camps, resort cabins and private rental home offer weekly rentals. Several RV camps and assorted campgrounds join the State Park in providing camp space for more mobile visitors. Some real estate is available, usually in the form of existing homes and cottages, often on the lakefront. There’s plenty to see here and plenty to do, even if boating and fishing aren’t your hobbies. A camera is a must as are good hiking boots suitable to a wetland environment.

Things to do at Lake Griffin

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Griffin

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Sunfish

Lake Griffin Photo Gallery

Lake Griffin Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: St. Johns River Water Management District

Surface Area: 9,428 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 59 feet

Maximum Depth: 18 feet

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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