Whitefish Lake, Minnesota, USA

Also known as:  Upper Whitefish Lake and Lower Whitefish Lake, Whitefish Chain of Lakes

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Whitefish Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Whitefish Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Whitefish Lake

The natural beauty of Whitefish Lake will leave visitors spellbound and ready to leave the cares of the world behind. Nestled in the Central Region of Minnesota, Whitefish Lake is part of the Whitefish Chain of Lakes which includes Upper Whitefish Lake, Lower Whitefish Lake, Big Trout Lake, Clamshell Lake, Hen Lake, Island Lake, Little Pine Lake, Arrowhead Lake, Bertha Lake, Cross Lake, Daggett Lake, Lower Hay Lake, Pig Lake, and Rush Lake. With 13,660 surface acres of water and 119 miles of combined shoreline, the Whitefish Chain is the largest chain of lakes in the Brainerd area, and it provides dozens of recreation activities which include boating, fishing, waterskiing, swimming, hiking and bird watching.

The 14 lakes in the Whitefish Chain of Lakes are all natural lakes. In 1884, the US Army Corps of Engineers constructed a dam on the Pine River, a tributary of the Mississippi River. Before constructing the dam, Pine River was a creek connecting Cross Lake with Upper and Lower Whitefish Lakes. The Pine River Dam raised the water level, making channels between the lakes which aided logging operations in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Reconstruction of Pine River Dam took place between 1905 and 1907, and another major renovation took place from 1998-2003.

Whitefish Lake has become a popular vacation destination. With the shoreline zoned for general development, lake resorts, restaurants, cabins, campsites as well as expensive lake homes line the shoreline. Lake access can be found on the east shore of Upper Whitefish Lake. However, lake visitors are not limited to Whitefish Lake for public access. Pig Lake, Clamshell Lake, Cross Lake, Big Trout Lake, and Lower Hay Lake have public access as well. A swimming beach with a picnicking and playground area can be found at the Cross Lake Recreation Area, also known as the Ronald Louis Cloutier Recreation Area. It is located on Cross Lake about 22 miles north of Brainerd. The Cross Lake Recreation Area also offers camping with electric and non-electric campsites.

Another place of interest and intense beauty is Big Island, cradled in the waters of Upper Whitefish Lake. The Island is most noted for its 35+ acres of old-growth maple and basswood forest. The Island has been designated as a county Scientific and Natural Area to preserve its natural beauty. Although picnicking is not allowed in the forest, the Island also offers some sandy beach areas where picnicking and camping are allowed. An interpretive trail though the forest provides information to help visitors appreciate the natural beauty around them.

Golfers can enjoy close to 25 golf courses within 30 miles of the Whitefish Chain of Lakes. For those who enjoy a good drive, the National Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway weaves its way around the Whitefish Chain of Lakes. Nature lovers may enjoy a visit to the nearby Big Stone Wetland Management District which contains 3,000 acres and provides important habitat for waterfowl.

Fishing is still an all-time favorite pastime at Whitefish Lake which specializes in northern pike, largemouth bass and bluegill. Other fish caught at Whitefish Lake are smallmouth bass, crappie, walleye, and whitefish. In the winter when Whitefish Lake freezes over, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are popular sports.

So whether visitors like to fish, camp, or just get away for a relaxing retreat, they will find what they are looking for at Whitefish Lake. With all the natural beauty that the Whitefish Chain of Lakes has to offer, it is no wonder that these lakes are becoming a very popular vacation destination.

Things to Do at Whitefish Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Birding
  • Playground

Fish Species Found at Whitefish Lake

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

Find Places to Stay at Whitefish Lake

If you’re considering a Whitefish Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Whitefish Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Whitefish Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Whitefish Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 7,370 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,253 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,253 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,254 feet

Average Depth: 47 feet

Maximum Depth: 140 feet

Completion Year: 1884

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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