Lake Sammamish, Washington, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Washington - Seattle & Puget Sound -

At just under 5,000 acres, Lake Sammamish is one of the major recreational lakes in the state. The lake provides activities for fishermen, boaters, jet skiers, water skiers, swimmers, picnickers, and those just wanting to enjoy the scenery. Lake Sammamish is less than a 30 minute drive from Seattle, making it a convenient day trip for visitors and residents of the area alike. More than a million people in the region visit Lake Sammamish every year.

Lake Sammamish (pronounced “suh-MAM-ish”) is a freshwater lake, seven miles long and one and half miles wide, formed by glacial activity. It is bordered by various parks including Marymoor Park at the lake’s north end and Lake Sammamish State Park at its south end. Issaquah Creek feeds the lake, which then drains into Lake Washington via the Sammamish River. The East Lake Sammamish Trail runs the length of the lake (and then some) and connects to a 40 mile trail system that runs from Issaquah to the east, north to Redmond, Kenmore and Bothell, then south along the Burke-Gilman Trail to Ballard Locks at Puget Sound. With the impressive trail system as well as various state and county parks along the shore, visitors have plenty to do and see whether they want to stay for just the day or make it an extended visit complete with overnight camping.

Lake Sammamish provides habitat for a variety of coldwater fish including kokanee salmon, coho salmon, and chinook salmon, as well as birds and other wildlife. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is located along Issaquah Creek, a relatively short distance upstream of Lake Sammamish. Other coldwater and warmwater species in the lake include largemouth bass, rainbow trout, walleye, perch, steelhead trout, and cutthroat trout. Smallmouth bass are prevalent in Lake Sammamish and are often seen at near state record size. Bird watching is very popular around the lake with species such as the bald eagle, great blue heron, various sparrow species, and orange-crowned warbler.

The water quality of Lake Sammamish has long been a concern for local activists. In 1968, sewage was diverted from Lake Sammamish, which reduced phosphorus inputs by about 35 percent. Phosphorus concentrations gradually increased again between 1978 to 1996, due to urbanization throughout the watershed. In 1995, a citizen’s task force, Partners for a Clean Lake Sammamish, worked to identify issues and implement a water quality management plan. Working with other state and county entities, much attention has been brought to the issues and steps taken to improve water quality. More protection has come from the fact that the lake has received “natural resource of statewide significance” designation by the Shoreline Management Act. The act is based on the philosophy that the shorelines of the state of Washington are among the most valuable and fragile of its natural resources. Therefore, shores with this designation are more closely monitored with respect to their utilization, protection, restoration and preservation.

Another issue for Lake Sammamish has been water levels. Historically, the water levels of Lake Sammamish fluctuated greatly. In the early 1960’s the Army Corps of Engineers completed a channel dredging and straightening project that included construction of a weir at the lake’s outlet. The result was the virtual elimination of flooding in the Sammamish River valley and the reduction of maximum flood elevations and seasonal water surface elevations in the lake. Due to damage and deterioration of the original structure, the weir was rebuilt in 1998 with a slightly updated design, which also improved the passage of breeding salmon during low flow.

Lake Sammamish enjoys a rich history due in large part to its Native American settlers. The original lake name was Squak Lake, but the name evolved into Lake Sammamish. The word “Sammamish” comes from a Native American word “Samena,” meaning “hunter.” For centuries, the Lake Sammamish area was an important culture zone and gathering place for local Native American tribes. Tribes celebrated their winter festivals at the south end of the lake, where they hunted, fished and gathered berries in preparation for winter. In more recent times, the Lake Sammamish area has seen some of the most rapid growth in the Greater Seattle Metropolitan Area due to the strong local economy which includes the presence of companies such as Microsoft, Nintendo and many other high-tech businesses.

Lake Sammamish has many accommodation options ranging from resorts and bed and breakfasts to cabins and other vacation properties along the shores. For those looking to relocate to the Seattle area, the lake is conveniently located and still has waterfront lots to build on and as well as condos and homes for sale. The area has exploded in recent years including the Seattle suburbs of Redmond, Snoqualmie, Fall City, Issaquah and Bellevue, which are located nearby. Just two miles away is the city of Sammamish which was incorporated in 1999. A Shoreline Master Plan and heavy community involvement will ensure that Lake Sammamish remains a valuable resource for visitors and residents alike.

Things to do at Lake Sammamish

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park

Fish species found at Lake Sammamish

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Chinook Salmon
  • Coho Salmon
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Steelhead Trout
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Lake Sammamish Photo Gallery

Lake Sammamish Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Surface Area: 4,897 acres

Shoreline Length: 18 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 30 feet

Average Depth: 58 feet

Maximum Depth: 105 feet

Water Volume: 283,860 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 100 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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