Whitefish Chain of Lakes, Minnesota, USA

Also known as:  Pine River Reservoir

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Whitefish Chain of Lakes.

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Whitefish Chain of Lakes visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

Whitefish Chain of Lakes, also known as the Pine River Reservoir, is one of six Mississippi River Headwater Reservoirs in central Minnesota. Located in the Brained area, which is well known for its lakes, Whitefish Chain of Lakes is the largest of the chain lakes, boasting close to 14,000 acres of surface water and 112 miles of shoreline. The chain has become a popular vacation destination in recent years and is made up of 14 different natural lakes: Cross, Upper Whitefish, Lower Whitefish, Bertha, Rush, Lower Hay, Clamshell, Little Pine, Daggett, Big Trout, Hen, Island, Little Pine, Arrowhead, and Pig Lakes.

In the 1880s, Congress authorized the US Army Corps of Engineers to develop a series of headwater lake dams for the purpose of helping the Mississippi River to stay navigable below St. Paul. Whitefish Chain of Lakes was the forth to be constructed with a dam built in 1886 on the Pine River, a tributary of the Mississippi River. The dam caused water levels to rise 10 feet, connecting the 14 natural lakes in the chain. Reconstruction of the dam took place between 1905 and 1907. Now Whitefish Chain of Lakes is a recreational paradise and home to hundreds of lake lovers.

To get a good view of Whitefish Chain of Lakes, visitors can take a drive on the National Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, which weaves its way around the picturesque waters. Vacation rentals, resorts, villas, and RV parks are abundant on the shorelines of the chain. Campgrounds can also be found at Cross Lake Recreation Area, also known as Ronald Louis Cloutier Recreation Area. It is located on Cross Lake and offers campsites with electric and non-electric hook ups. Public access to Whitefish Chain of Lakes can also be found on Upper Whitefish Lake, Pig Lake, Clamshell Lake, Big Trout Lake, and Lower Hay Lake.

For those who fall in love with Whitefish Chain of Lakes may want to take up full time residence, or buy a summer home. Real estate around the lakes is plentiful and makes an excellent place to call home. Lake residents can unwind after a day of work and soak in refreshing lake views.

A day spent at Whitefish Chain of Lakes can be filled with a host of water activities. Boaters, anglers, water skiers and swimmers can enjoy the cool refreshing waters. Anglers can reel in many different fish that make their home in the chain. Fish species include walleye, largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, northern pike and black crappie. Off the water, visitors and lake residents can enjoy a round of golf. With over 25 golf courses within 30 miles of the lakes, golfers are sure to find a course challenging enough for them.

Whitefish Chain of Lakes can be enjoyed year round. In addition to exciting summer activities, vacationers and residents bundle up and experience some of Minnesota’s excellent winter sports. When the lakes freeze, anglers participate in ice fishing, while others enjoy ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and cross country skiing.

Whitefish Chain of Lakes promises to be an exciting vacation experience where visitors can take pleasure in many water sports, while lake residents can soak in the intense beauty and have fun year round. With all Whitefish Chain of Lakes has to offer, it is no wonder many people choose to call the chain home or to make it their favorite vacation destination.

Custom Whitefish Chain of Lakes house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Whitefish Chain of Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Ice Skating
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling

Fish species found at Whitefish Chain of Lakes

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Whitefish
  • Yellow Perch

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Whitefish Chain of Lakes

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Whitefish Chain of Lakes photo gallery

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Whitefish Chain of Lakes statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 13,660 acres

Shoreline Length: 119 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,229 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,227 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,235 feet

Maximum Depth: 138 feet

Water Volume: 101,340 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 562 sq. miles

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