Steinhuder Meer, Lower Saxony, Germany

Lake Locations:

Germany - Lower Saxony -

Also known as:  Lake Steinhude

The largest lake in Lower Saxony, Lake Steinhude, or Steinhuder Meer as it is usually called, is a favored recreational spot just 25 miles from Hanover. The natural spring-fed lake is about 7,200 acres, yet averages only four feet in depth. Named for the formerly sleepy fishing village on its southeast shoreline, Steinhuder Meer has gained a new life as a premier destination for sailing and water sports. The lake maintains its quiet surface as motors are allowed only by special permit. Ordinarily the only motorized boats in sight are the ‘Auswanderer’ passenger cruise boats that make regular excursions across the lake from the resort village of Steinhude to Mardorf on the North shore.

Here, sailboats rule! The lake hosts both national and international regattas on a regular basis. Rowing, canoeing, pedal boats and windsurfing are also popular. Visitors who don’t bring their own watercraft can rent sail boats, canoes and row boats at several places along the shore. In winter ice sailing competitions are popular, along with ice skating. The wide expanse of water is broken only by two artificial islands. Between 1761-1767, Count William I of Schaumburg-Lippe had the first island constructed, on which he built the fort of Wilhelmstein. The island is a popular tour destination, and the regularly-scheduled passenger boats stop here. The second island was built in 1974 after Steinhude reinvented itself from a town of fishermen to a respected holiday venue. Known as the Badeinsel Steinhude (Steinhude Swimming Island), this one has an area of over eight acres with a flat sandy beach, sunbathing and relaxing space, and two sports fields. In summer the island hosts beach volleyball tournaments for amateurs and professionals and a music concert series.

Steinhude gained its well-deserved reputation as a holiday destination after the Steinhuder Meer Nature Park was designated. The park is considered a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and protects much of the wetland margins around the lake. The wetlands and several intact bog areas host a number of endangered plants and provide breeding areas for wading birds and waterfowl. A huge number of migrating and over-wintering birds can be seen here. The park is well-supplied with hiking and cycling paths and receives up to 50,000 visitors a day on busy summer weekends. Restrictions on lakeshore development have allowed existing Steinhude village to develop into a desirable holiday destination as an extension of the park’s activity zone. Besides hiking and cycling paths, visitors may enjoy horse-drawn carriage tours, boat tours across the lake, hiking paths into the surrounding countryside, and all of the water-focused activities Steinhuder-Meer is known for. Cyclists circling the lake often pedal only half-way and catch a cruise boat for the return trip.

In keeping with a vacation resort, Steinhude holds a large number of hotels, guesthouses, holiday apartments, various small hotels, and farm holidays in Steinhude and in the surrounding localities of Hagenburg and Mardorf. The expected small shops and specialty restaurants line the streets, and the traditional dish of specially-spiced smoked eel is still a favorite. In keeping with Steinhude’s fishing village past, restaurants specializing in fish dishes are common. Steinhude also provides a number of small specialty museums to acquaint visitors with the area’s past, including a fisher and weaver museum, toy and children’s world museum, an insect museum with butterfly farm, and a linen weaving museum. Fine table linens are still woven here and can be purchased at shops in the area. The village of Steinhude is linked to its western neighbor, Hagenburg, by a mile-long lakeside promenade. Several camping and caravan parks in the area offer camping for the tent and caravan crowd.

The origin of Steinhuder-Meer isn’t well understood. It is suspected that the depression was gouged by retreating glaciers and filled by melt water. There are no incoming rivers, and most water is gained from precipitation and springs on the lake’s floor. The only river flowing out is the Meerbach which drains to the Weser River. Although the lake supported a large fishing industry for centuries, it appears that commercial fishing has taken a back seat to the tourist industry. Guest houses still advertise their space for ‘fishing vacations’ but there is little information as to whether there are many fish available for the catching. One still sees the occasional angler casting from the docks and the occasional fishing boat leaving the docks along the shore. Before planning a fishing trip, visitors should inquire of the appropriate authorities as to what restrictions are in effect. The dedication of the Steinhuder Meer Nature Park placed many shoreline and lake restrictions on inhabitants to maintain a high-quality nesting environment for the thousands of birds seen here each year. This trade-off has been rewarded with the large increase in tourist dollars spent by visitors.

Only 30 minutes from Hanover, Steinhuder Meer can be reached by car, train and bus. The short distance makes this a desirable side-trip for tourists to Hanover and a popular seasonal home location for Hanover residents. Little new housing is being built due to construction limitations because of the nature park. Real estate may be available but competition is likely high for the more favored locations. Many visitors instead opt for longer-term reservations at a guest house or small hotel. So, whether one enjoys smoked eel or not, there is a wealth of activity at Steinhuder Meer to delight visitors. The next visit you plan to Hanover, save a day for the trip to Steinhuder-Meer.

Things to do at Steinhuder Meer

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Steinhuder Meer

  • Eel

Steinhuder Meer Photo Gallery

  • SONY DSC

Steinhuder Meer Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 7,216 acres

Shoreline Length: 13 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 115 feet

Average Depth: 4 feet

Maximum Depth: 10 feet

Water Volume: 71,991 acre-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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