Lake Zurich, Illinois, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Illinois - Chicagoland -

Also known as:  Cedar Lake

Lake Zurich is a charming private lake conveniently located 35 miles northwest of Chicago, Illinois and approximately 50 miles south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Covering 250 acres, this small lake offers all the advantages of lakeside living in the growing urban environment of the Chicagoland region. With parks, beaches, promenade and walking path found around the shore, Lake Zurich offers a quiet retreat for the residents and visitors of the Village of Lake Zurich.

Originally named Cedar Lake, Lake Zurich is found in northeastern Illinois’ Lake County, home to more than 10,000 acres of sparkling lake water. According to “The Encyclopedia of Chicago,” this glacially carved lake was filled in the 1830s when beavers dammed a nearby stream. By 1836 the freshwater spring-fed lake was renamed Lake Zurich by Seth Paine, an early Cedar Lake settler. Seth Paine is believed to have visited Switzerland’s Lake Zurich before founding a small commune near the shores of Cedar Lake.

Today what is said to have started as a commune is now a thriving community ranking among some of America’s best small communities. The population, now exceeding 20,000, surrounds the three-mile shoreline of Lake Zurich. The village park system maintains over 225 acres of neighborhood parks, athletic fields, walking paths and lakeside beaches. Located along the southwest shore, Paulus Park offers 41 acres where families can gather for water and land sports. Listed among its amenities are a sand beach, walking path, fishing pier, concession stand, restrooms, sand volleyball court, playground, picnic shelters, skate park and sledding hill. Lake Zurich does not offer a public boat launch but, for a fee, residents may launch non-motorized craft from Paulus Park during the summer months making canoeing and kayaking a popular warm weather activity.

Lake Zurich residents also enjoy pier and shore fishing. Within the 30-foot depths you will find bluegill, largemouth bass, northern pike, grass carp, black crappie and channel catfish. While the fishing gear is out, anglers may cast a line for pickerel, yellow perch and smallmouth bass in nearby Echo Lake, just a short walk north of Lake Zurich.

An additional 30 parks lie within the Village of Lake Zurich adding to the natural setting that makes Lake Zurich so appealing. Breezewald Park lies opposite Paulus Park, offering another sandy beach ideal for swimming and sunbathing. A few blocks north of Lake Zurich you will find the 14-acre natural habitat of Oak Ridge Marsh. A short hiking path through the forest of oaks, cherry and cottonwood trees of Oak Ridge takes you to the southern shore of Echo Lake and a bird observation area. Continue to walk around the Village of Lake Zurich and you will find parks offering sport facilities for baseball, basketball, volleyball and tennis.

If fishing and water sports are your passion, drive approximately 30 miles north of Lake Zurich to Chain O’Lakes State Park. This 2,793-acre park contains 6,500 acres of water and 488 miles of shoreline. Grass Lake, Marie Lake, Nippersink Lake, and Fox River border the state park and connect to the remaining seven lakes found in Illinois’ Chain O’Lakes: Bluff, Fox, Pistakee, Channel, Petite, Catherine, and Redhead lakes. Fish species found in the Chain O’Lakes include sunfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, walleye, crappie, muskie, northern pike, bullhead, catfish, yellow and white bass. Fishing requires a permit as does hunting for dove, waterfowl, deer, and pheasant. Park amenities include a picnic area and trail designed for disabled visitors, standard picnic areas, water fountains, restrooms, campsites and hiking and horseback trails used for snowmobiling in the winter.

The community of Wauconda is less than 10 miles north of Lake Zurich, home of the Lake County Discovery Museum. Here visitors will enjoy the history of Lake County told through interactive exhibits. In addition to regularly scheduled classes, events, and changing exhibits, the museum displays “the nation’s largest permanent exhibition on the history and significance of postcards.” Those interested in nature study will want to stop at the Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve. Seek permission from the Lake County Forest Preserve District before entering the preserve because it does not have developed access. The bog holds over 100 plant species including tamarack, orchids, yellow birch, winterberry holly, and poison sumac. The Forest Preserve District states that this National Natural Landmark is unique in that it provides “a source of relict pollen, preserved in layers of peat, which provides information on plant migration after the retreat of the glaciers.”

Less than 25 miles northwest of Lake Zurich, Moraine Hills State Park takes visitors on a trek through glacial history. The park’s Lake Defiance remains in a “near-natural state” from its glacial origins. Surrounded by marsh land and bogs, the park is a nature-lover’s delight. In addition to the natural features, visitors may observe red fox, coyote, white-tailed deer, eastern cottontail, mink, opossum, and raccoon. Bird watchers will enjoy looking for mallards, teal, wood ducks, and Canada geese. Fishing is available within posted regulations. Shotgun deer hunting is available with permit.

Living within 15 miles of Lake Michigan and 35 miles from Chicago allows residents of Lake Zurich to choose from a never-ending list of opportunities for recreation, shopping, dining, entertainment and services. Those who reside in the Village of Lake Zurich enjoy all the advantages of urban living while surrounding themselves with lakeshores, parks and a nature preserves. Choose from among the homes, condominiums, apartments and vacation rentals on or near Lake Zurich, and at the end of the day you can leave work behind and enjoy Lake Zurich’s relaxed way of life.

Things to do at Lake Zurich

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Zurich

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Grass Carp
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • White Bass
  • Yellow Perch

Lake Zurich Photo Gallery

Lake Zurich Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 250 acres

Shoreline Length: 3 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 843 feet

Maximum Depth: 30 feet

Lake Area-Population: 20,000

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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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