Lake Harris, Florida, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Florida - East Central -

Lake Harris, located in Lake County, sits atop an enviable central Florida location, only 31 miles from Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios, and all Orlando has to offer. One of the lake’s most unique features is its shape: from the air, the lake is shaped just like China. But have no fear, it’s hardly as large and you’ll be able to traverse a reasonable number of its impressive 13,788 acres during your vacation.

Lake Harris is the namesake for eight lakes that comprise the Harris Chain of Lakes: Lake Harris, Little Lake Harris, Lake Eustis, the East Lakes (Dora, Beauclair, and Carlton), Lake Griffin, and Lake Apopka. A mixture of private residences, citrus groves, and wetlands comprise the eastern and southern shores of the lake, while the north side of the lake is a mixture of commercial, industrial, and private uses. The city of Leesburg is on the northwestern shore of Lake Harris.

Lake Harris has two public boat ramps, one at the western end of lake, the other located in a county park on the southeastern side. Boaters can also access Lake Harris from Lake Eustis and from the Palatlakaha River, offering scenic rides through cypress trees with abundant wildlife and prime fishing. Power boats, sailboats, and fishing boats share Lake Harris waters.

Because of its large size, Lake Harris waters become rough during high winds. Recreational boaters and anglers find respite at Little Harris Lake when waves are too rough on Lake Harris. Little Harris Lake, with 2739 acres, is located at the southeastern end of Lake Harris, divided only by the State Route 19 bridge. The hills around Little Harris Lake are a mixture of residential development, citrus groves, and wetlands.

The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) operates a series of dams in the Harris Chain of Lakes to stabilize water levels. The reduction of normal water level fluctuations, draining of marshes for farming, and runoff from agricultural, municipal, and commercial sources over many years led to the decline of fisheries habitat in the lakes. The SJRWMD’s 5-year restoration plan has significantly improved water quality in the Harris Chain of Lakes. The clean-up has been a cooperative effort between SJRWMD and federal, state, county and local governments, citizen support groups, and environmental organizations.

Lake Harris is humorously and lovingly called “The Mountains” because of its topography. Unlike the notoriously flat Greater Orlando area, the lake area is hilly and punctuated with cypress trees. This is a nice break from the surrounding flat terrain, and provides a safe haven for some beautiful flora and interesting fauna.

Nature photographers, rejoice, for Lake Harris is what you’ve been looking for. Blue waters framed by equally blue skies, swooping bald eagles and hawks, and long Kissimmee reeds providing the perfect hiding place for bullfrogs, toads, and other adorable creatures. And even if a camera isn’t one of your favorite accessories, you’ll still enjoy the towering cypresses, jumping fish, and singing birds.

Lake County is well regarded as a premier fishing destination in the southeastern United States. In fact, Florida has been nicknamed “The Fishing Capital of the World” by the satisfied anglers who come to drop a line in year after year. If you find yourself lucky enough to be sitting in a fishing boat, trolling down Lake Harris, prepare to reel in mostly black crappie and largemouth bass with the occasional bluegill, redear sunfish, and sunshine bass.

Even if you don’t fish, you owe it to yourself to take a boat out onto the lake and investigate the coves, dip your feet into the cool waters, and simply enjoy the sun on your face as you enjoy the bountiful nature that makes Lake Harris its home. For that’s what a vacation at the lake is all about: wind in your hair, water between your toes, and a few days that you will never forget.

Things to do at Lake Harris

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Lake Harris

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Sunfish
  • Sunshine Bass

Lake Harris Photo Gallery

Lake Harris Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: St. Johns River Water Management District

Shoreline Length: 38 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 62 feet

Average Depth: 12 feet

Drainage Area: 337 sq. miles

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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