Medicine Lake, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

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

Medicine Lake, in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Metro Region, is an example of how a concerned community takes care of their natural resources. The 936-acre lake is named for the Native American word “Mdewakan,” meaning “Lake of the Spirit.” Due to heavy shoreline development and storm run-off, the water quality became degraded in recent years. Coalitions of concerned citizens embarked on a complicated lake monitoring and run-off abatement program to restore the lake to health. All residents are now connected to the water treatment plant, and lawn fertilizer use has been curtailed. Thanks to their efforts, Medicine lake is well on its way to becoming the beautiful lake that met the first settlers’ eyes when they arrived.

Long the hunting grounds of the Dakota, Medicine Lake’s first European settler arrived in 1852. Other farmers soon arrived and, due to being located only ten miles from downtown Minneapolis, the lake soon became a popular resort area. A small town grew up an the north end of the lake called Plymouth. After a severe season of flooding, the town was moved farther away from the shore. Meanwhile, a small village on the southern peninsula called Medicine Lake remained on the shore. The larger town of Plymouth eventually grew to completely surround the town of Medicine Lake. Rather than the rivalry that often overcomes neighboring towns, the people of both villages have worked together to improve recreational facilities centered around the lake. Three parks have been developed on the lakefront providing playgrounds, walking and cycling trails, swimming beaches and nature features. A public boat launch/marina is available at Three Rivers Park on the north shore. All provide picnic grounds with grill facilities and rest rooms.

Medicine Lake has always been a favorite fishing spot for local anglers. A fingerling planting schedule assures a plentiful supply of game fish. Species found in the waters include bluegill, bowfin (dogfish), bullhead, common carp, crappie, goldeye, sunfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, white sucker and yellow perch. There is a fishing pier for the shore-bound fisherman. The shallow lake provides plenty of cover for the popular game fish and local fishermen trade the secrets of lures, bait and secret hot spots on fishing bulletin boards and at the local bait shops.Recommended fish consumption guidelines are available from the Dept of Natural Resources.

All types of boating are enjoyed here, including water skiing, tubing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, jet skiing and pontooning. Medicine Lake is the perfect spot for city residents to escape the heat on a hot summer week-end. The lake is a popular vacation spot for city dwellers who have little time for out-of-town trips as the distance is very commutable. The lake is easily accessed from Highway 169 and Interstate 494 and it’s an easy trip back to both Minneapolis and St Paul.

Visitors to the area will find the Village of Plymouth has worked hard to make the entire area around Medicine Lake a recreational paradise. The download-able Parks and Trails map shows the wealth of parks, trails and natural destinations developed by the city. For off-lake activities, Plymouth has facilities to meet every need. The Millennium Garden at Plymouth Creek Center features beautiful gardens and grounds, a labyrinth, and several water features. A skate park is open daily. The Plymouth Ice Center features three sheets of ice: an Olympic sheet and two professional sheets. In winter, local skating ponds feature warming houses and groomed ice. The Hennepin History Museum features exhibits of early Minnesota life and examples of early fishing lures, antique resort brochures and an examination of the the early vacation culture before 1950. Hilde Performance Center schedules performance artists, both local and national. And Plymouth also offers the usual movie theaters, shopping and many golf courses. As famed Mall of America is less than 20 miles from Medicine Lake, the shoppers in the family can indulge their retail addictions while the fisher-folk troll the shallows.

Winter doesn’t bring activities around Medicine Lake to a halt. The trails are popular for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The lake becomes a focal point when ice-covered; ice skating, ice fishing and winter festivals begin. Ice fishing goes on all winter long but is particularly interesting when coupled with one of the winter festivals. Besides such sports as ice bicycle racing, called “B icicle Races,” an annual arts contest called the Art Shanty Projects brings artists with their far-fetched and artistic interpretations of an ice fishing shanty. These temporary buildings are amusing, amazing, awesome and sometimes downright inspiring! The entire event is a well-patronized production, and planning begins before the previous year’s event is completed. Many of the artists take their artistic creations very seriously and often don’t fish at all! Another spectacular event is the St. Paul Winter Festival, celebrated as “The Coolest Celebration on Earth.” The ice castle has become an internationally recognized icon of the festival.

Because the area around Medicine Lake has been developed for many years, vacation rentals are always available. Bed-and breakfasts, condos, hotels and year-round home lodgings are usually found. Real estate is often available on the lakefront or on the peninsula. It’s a great place to find lodgings for a business trip to the Minneapolis-St Paul area with the family in tow – a welcome change from downtown hotel accommodations. A more perfect urban lake experience would be hard to find. Come to Medicine Lake and you’ll wonder why you didn’t arrive much, much sooner!

Things to do at Medicine Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Hunting
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Movie Theater
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Medicine Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Bowfin
  • Carp
  • Crappie
  • Goldeye
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sucker
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Medicine Lake Photo Gallery

Medicine Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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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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