Pokegama Lake, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Northeast -

Also known as:  Lake Pokegama

Pokegama Lake has been a premier vacation destination for over 100 years. Located on the southwestern side of Grand Rapids, Minnesota in Itasca County, the lake offers over 6,600 acres of water and 55 miles of shoreline for year round adventure.

Prior to 1858, the lands above Pokegama Lake were considered an unexplored wilderness except by fur traders and missionaries. However, Minnesota was in the middle of a booming lumber business in the mid-1800’s; as the logs gave out in the southern part of the state, lumbermen began moving up the Mississippi River cutting pines as they went. It is estimated that the first timber cruisers began exploring the great wooded area of Pokegama Lake and northward during the early 1860’s, mapping the area and marking huge stands of pine trees for the approaching lumbermen to cut. The first logs from Pokegama Lake floated down the Mississippi in 1868.

Food, clothing, tools and other supplies had to be brought in to the lumberjacks, because there were no settlements in the area to supply these necessities. Steamships cruised up the Mississippi loaded with supplies that were unloaded at stopping points along the river and then loaded into wagons pulled by oxen or canoes to cross lakes to reach the lumber camps. Eventually, progressive thinking business owners brought steamboats to operate on the lakes that could haul more freight to the camps and settlements that had begun to spring up in the region; the Comet was the first boat to carry supplies on Pokegama Lake in the early 1880’s. Grand Rapids was one of these settlements and was considered a thriving pioneer village in 1881. On November 8, 1892 voters in Itasca County voted to have Grand Rapids become the permanent county seat, and after that the area grew by large numbers to become the progressive community that we know today.

The original Pokegama Dam was built in 1882 at the headwaters of the Mississippi River to aid in downstream navigation. Prior to the dam, Pokegama Lake was mostly a swampy bog that grew a large region of wild rice. The Army Corps of Engineers reconstructed the dam in 1904 with concrete and maintains control of the structure. Today this reservoir is primarily used for flood control to protect the city of Aitkin, Minnesota, but outdoor enthusiasts know that Pokegama Lake is used extensively for recreation purposes.

Pokegama Lake residents and visitors enjoy swimming at the lake’s beaches, boating, canoeing, kayaking, jet skiing, waterskiing, and water tubing. Fishing for walleye, northern pike, rock bass, crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and an occasional lake trout keep anglers challenged all four seasons whether they choose to be on the water, along the shoreline, on one of the fishing piers located around the lake, or in an ice shanty on top of the frozen lake. Lakefront real estate provides residents their own private entrance to all the pleasures of the lake. The Pokegama Recreation Area operated by the Army Corps of Engineers offers a boat launch, picnic facilities, playground area, and camping facilities for overnight stays in this beautiful location.

A short drive from Pokegama Lake will find you in the Chippewa National Forest amid towering white pines, more than 720 lakes, 920 miles of streams, and 150,000 acres of wetlands. Named after the original inhabitants of the forest, the Chippewa Indians, the lushness of the forest may make you feel as though you have stepped back in time to the days before the first English settlers came to the area. Home to the largest breeding population of bald eagles in the lower United States, birders will be awed as the majestic birds soar above the trees. With many trails through the forests, visitors can hike, bike, or Nordic ski through the rolling hills, lakes, and streams. Campsites throughout the forest allow you to stay for extended periods of time to absorb all of the beauty.

Pokegama Lake, Grand Rapids, and Itasca County are prime outdoor adventure areas. Nearby Scenic State Park and Schoolcraft State Park both offer secluded virgin pines in quiet untouched wilderness-like settings along with camp sites, picnic areas, hiking trails, and access to acres of wildlife and bird watching opportunities. With thousands of acres of well-managed public lands, hunters have long known the high-quality habitats of the area provide great and bountiful hunting. As soon as the snow covers the ground, snowmobile clubs begin grooming over 900 miles of premier snowmobile trails that wind through pristine forests and over more than 1000 area lakes. With a variety of terrain for beginner, intermediate, and expert, Nordic skiing trails for both classic and free style techniques beckon those who wish a quieter exploration of the snow covered pines. Some of these same trails are used for dog sledding where private kennels offer visitors a chance to mush their very own team of dogs for an exhilarating ride of a lifetime.

Grand Rapids offers more exciting activities and attractions besides the fun of Lake Pokegama. Theatres and performing arts centers present quality productions. Take a ride on the Mississippi River on a refurbished paddlewheel showboat. Multiple casinos in the region offer gaming fun. Well-maintained golf courses provide championship play for golfers of all levels. Vacation rentals are as varied as the entertainment with options for lush resorts, intimate bed and breakfasts, motels and hotels to fit all budgets, and a wide range of campgrounds.

Known as one of the “100 Best Small Towns in America,” Grand Rapids has become a recreational haven for boating, fishing, and other great outdoor adventures. Pokegama Lake is a wonderful vacation choice; with all the extras of the Grand Rapids region, your trip will create memories that will last you a lifetime.

Things to do at Pokegama Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dog Sledding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Forest
  • Playground
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Pokegama Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Pokegama Lake Photo Gallery

    Pokegama Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

    Surface Area: 6,612 acres

    Shoreline Length: 55 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,273 feet

    Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,268 feet

    Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,276 feet

    Maximum Depth: 114 feet

    Water Volume: 80,126 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1885

    Drainage Area: 3,265 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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