Phalen Chain of Lakes, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

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

Also known as:  Lake Phalen, Round Lake, Lake Keeler, Lake Gervais, Spoon Lake, Kohlman Lake

Lake Phalen and the Phalen Chain of Lakes provide the City of St. Paul with a major source for water-based fun. The lakes officially included in the chain from south to north are Lake Phalen, Round Lake, Keller Lake, Spoon Lake, Lake Gervais and Kohlman Lake. The Twin Cities area is well-known for having an abundance of lakes and parks, including the Phalen-Keller Regional Park. Lake Phalen’s 198 acres is the centerpiece of the Phalen portion of the jointly operated park. The park offers nearly every type of recreation along the lake’s four-mile shoreline. Immediately to the north, straddling the city limits in Ramsey County, 72-acre Keller Lake is bordered by the Keller Regional Park. The combined park covers nearly 750 acres.

A canoe or kayak trip from Lake Phalen north via Keller Creek is particularly delightful. The circuitous water route first leads through 20-acre Round Lake. A channel continues on to Keller Lake. Keller Lake then empties into tiny seven-acre Spoon Lake, then on to 235-acre Lake Gervais near the municipality of Little Canada, outside of the Regional Park boundaries. A channel leads to Kohlman Lake, but there is no other public access to this lake. Until 1913, Lake Phalen provided most of St Paul’s water.

Both Lake Phalen and Round Lake are enclosed within the Phalen Park area. Every type of recreational activity has been planned for the park, with playgrounds, picnic areas, a recreation center, softball, baseball and volleyball fields, an ice skating rink, an 18-hole golf course, swimming beach, concession stand and nature trails. The St. Paul Sailing Program, operated through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, holds sailing lessons at the Lakeside Activities Center, while rowing and sculling classes are taught at the Beach House. The University of Minnesota holds several rowing meets here yearly. Gas-powered motors are not permitted at Lake Phalen, although electric trolling motors may be used. A boat ramp is provided at the lake for launching personal boats, and two fishing piers are provided on Lake Phalen.

The eastern half of Lake Keller falls within Keller Regional Park, while the western shoreline is private property. Lake Keller offers another golf course, more playgrounds and picnic areas, including one on an island in the lake. An archery range is located between the golf course and the channel between Phalen and Keller lakes. Another boat ramp is provided on Spoon Lake. Although Lake Gervais is mostly private property, little Lake Gervais County Park along the western shore holds another swimming beach, picnic areas and playground, and fishing pier; it is connected to the Phalen-Keller Regional Park via Spoon Lake. Of the six lakes, Lake Gervais receives the most motorized boat traffic and is popular among property owners for water skiing and water sports. Seventy-five-acre Kohlman Lake can only be accessed from Lake Gervais and is shallow and weedy, but often good for wildlife viewing.

One of the area’s major claims to fame is the fishing access available to visitors. Fishing piers are available at all of the lakes in the Lake Phalen chain, except Kohlman Lake. Much of the shoreline in the public areas is mowed grass suitable for shore fishing. The lakes hold a healthy population of largemouth bass, yellow perch, northern pike, channel catfish, crappie and bluegill. Lake Gervais actively managed for walleye and tiger muskie. Ice fishing is popular during the winter months, once the ice reaches sufficient depth. The fishing piers provide access for wheelchairs, and children enjoy trying their luck from the convenient docks.

Canoes and kayaks are ideal for exploring the Lake Phalen Chain of Lakes. The meandering channel from Lake Phalen to Round Lake provides a scenic view of nature interrupted only by the walking trails nearby. Round Lake offers a quiet place to make a few casts into the shallows or from the fishing pier. Quiet paddlers may be lucky enough to see bald eagles along the north shore of Keller Lake. The entire area attracts a variety of songbirds and small mammals along with a number of waterfowl.

The channel leading northward to Keller Lake is crossed by two different hiking trails: the Phalen Regional Park series of trails and the Gateway State Trail. Ample parking areas are available so the trails can be accessed from several different points. A few sections of boardwalk traverse the creeks and wet areas. More sections of walking trail are planned along the shore of Keller Lake and up to Spoon Lake, with improvements to the pedestrian walkways under two highways still in the planning stages. At the south end of Lake Phalen, the lakeside trails intersect with the seven-mile Bruce Vento Regional Trail along an abandoned rail right-of-way. The trails are used by pedestrians and mountain bikes in summer and cross-country skiers in winter.

The Phalen Chain of Lakes is an ideal getaway in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. The metroplex offers a variety of cultural venues and attractions that will please the most cosmopolitan of visitors. Four historic theaters and a newly-renovated Orchestra Hall produce a regular cornucopia of performances year-round. Enjoy ballet at the Cowles Center for the Performing Arts. Get your fill of art in all of its forms at Walker Art Center or Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Or chose to visit one or several of the more-than-60 museums located in the area. Two of the most outstanding are the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota Children’s Museum.

A wide range of choices in lodgings greets the visitor to the Twin Cities: elegant hotels, quaint city bed & breakfasts, economy lodgings, extended stays and private guest rentals. A wealth of dining options are available to suit every taste, with plenty of ethnic food establishments and unusual shops located throughout the city. The area’s number one tourist attraction, the Mall of America, draws 40 million visitors a year. Business is booming in the Twin Cities, so prime real estate around the lakes may be hard to find. The next time an opportunity arrives to visit the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, come paddle the Phalen Chain of Lakes.

*Statistics listed are for Lake Phalen only. Lake Phalen is the deepest lake; the others are much shallower.

Things to do at Phalen Chain of Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Phalen Chain of Lakes

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Tiger Muskellunge
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Phalen Chain of Lakes Photo Gallery

Phalen Chain of Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of St Paul

Surface Area: 198 acres

Shoreline Length: 4 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 860 feet

Average Depth: 24 feet

Maximum Depth: 91 feet

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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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