Whitefish Chain of Lakes, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

Also known as:  Pine River Reservoir

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.

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

Whitefish Chain of Lakes Photo Gallery

    Whitefish Chain of Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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    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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    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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