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Lakes of the Ottawa National Forest

I love getting out to explore new places.  Ever since I began my U.P. journey 16+ years ago, I've been digging into new hills, shorelines, waterfalls, and trails.  None has been as prolific as the region's vast numbers of inland lakes.  Lake Superior is great and all, but the interior of the U.P. is full of smaller lakes to explore. Many are quite scenic, and more often than not you'll have them all to yourself.


This is particularly true of the Ottawa National Forest, which happens to be one of my favorite places to visit and explore.  The ONF claims to have over 500 named lakes and ponds of all shapes and sizes.  That opened up an interesting line of questions: Are there really that many?!  How long would it take to paddle them all?  Has it been done?  Is it even possible?  If anyone is going to find out, it'd be me. 

Trapper Lake Packraft.jpg
Lake Thirteen fall paddling.jpg

As of February 26, 2023 I have visited 158 different lakes in the Ottawa National Forest.  

I've also paddled on several dozen others elsewhere in the U.P., but those don't count towards this goal.  I'm probably further along than 99% of the Forest Service's visitors and still have a long ways to go!  To count towards my goal, I either have to paddle on the lake (obviously), swim in it, or snowshoe/ski on it in winter.  Driving by and waving doesn't count.

A lot of lakes are completely inaccessible by road, even in the summer.  Fortunately, I built a packraft so even those lakes can't escape me for too long.  The most difficult lakes will be private ones.  Can't really get around that too easily unless I can hike in through CFA or Ottawa NF land or Misery Paddle Tour my way in via wetlands or rivers.  Don't tempt me...

Below is a list of the lakes I've been to so far.  Hit me up if you've ever visited some of the rarer ones.  I'm always interested to hear how people got on out there!  If you need intel on any of these lakes, I'm more than happy to let you know whether you're making a big mistake and to make waves towards better options elsewhere. Underlined lakes have photos on my flickr. Bolded lakes are some of my 'choice' picks.

  1. Albino Lake

  2. Allen Lake

  3. Amber Lake

  4. Anderson Lake

  5. Arc Lake

  6. Balcomb Lake

  7. Barclay Pond

  8. Bass Lake

  9. Beatons Lake

  10. Beitner Lake

  11. Bender Lake

  12. Big Lake

  13. Big African Lake

  14. Big Bateau Lake

  15. Bob Lake

  16. Bond Falls Flowage

  17. Brush Lake

  18. Buck Lake

  19. Bud Lake

  20. Bum Lake

  21. Castle Lake

  22. Chamberlain Lake

  23. Chapman Lake

  24. Chickadee Lake

  25. Chief Edwards Lake

  26. Cisco Lake

  27. Clark Lake

  28. Clear Lake

  29. Clearwater Lake

  30. Club Lake

  31. Cougar Lake

  32. County Line Lake

  33. Courtney Lake

  34. Crooked Lake

  35. Cub Lake

  36. Cutters Pond

  37. Deadman Lake

  38. Deer Lake

  39. Deer Island Lake

  40. Devils Head Lake

  41. Dorothy Lake

  42. Doyle Lake

  43. East Bay Lake

  44. Echo Lake

  45. Elsie Lake

  46. Erickson Lake

  47. Estes Lake

  48. Fisher Lake

  49. Fishhawk Lake

  50. Florence Lake

  51. Forest Lake

  52. Frog Pond

  53. Fuller Lake

  54. Gasley Lake

  55. Germain Lake

  56. Glare Lake

  57. Glimmerglass Lake

  58. Glitter Lake

  59. Golden Lake

  60. Grosse Lake

  61. Hager Lake

  62. Hannah Webb Lake

  63. Harding Lake

  64. Hay Lake

  65. Hehe Lake

  66. Helen Lake

  67. Hemlock Lake

  68. Hidden Lake

  69. High Lake

  70. Hilltop Lake

  71. Hobo Lake

  72. Houser Lake

  73. Howe Lake

  74. Indian Lake

  75. Interior Lake

  76. Irish Lake

  77. Jay Lake

  78. Jingle Lake

  79. Katherine Lake

  80. Kentucky Lake

  81. Killdeer Lake

  82. Kunze Lake

  83. Kvidera Lake

  84. LaCrosse Lake

  85. Lake Gogebic

  86. Lake On-Three

  87. Lake Sainte Kathryn

  88. Lake Thirteen

  89. Lake Twentyeight

  90. Liluis Lake

  91. Lindsley Lake

  92. Little African Lake

  93. Little Castle Lake

  94. Little Duck Lake

  95. Little Nesbit Lake

  96. Little Trail Lake

  97. Little Wolf Lake

  98. Long Lake

  99. Loon Lake

  100. Louise Lake

  101. Lower Dam Lake (no longer a lake!)

  102. Madelyn Lake

  103. Mamie Lake

  104. Markey Lake

  105. Marion Lake

  106. Mattie Lake

  107. Moon Lake

  108. Mountain Lake

  109. Morley Lake

  110. Mule Lake

  111. Nesbit Lake

  112. Norway Lake

  113. Ox Yoke Lake

  114. Pats Lake

  115. Paulding Pond

  116. Penegor Lake

  117. Perch Lake (Iron County)

  118. Perch Lake (Gogebic County)

  119. Pilot Lake

  120. Pit Lake

  121. Poor Lake

  122. Prickett Lake

  123. Quiver Lake

  124. Record Lake

  125. Rickles Lakes

  126. Robbins Pond

  127. Robinson Lake

  128. Rock Lake

  129. Rookery Lake

  130. Roost Lake

  131. Sand Lake

  132. Sandy Lake

  133. Saunder Lake

  134. Silk Lake

  135. Sixmile Lake

  136. Skyline Lake

  137. Snap Jack Lake

  138. Spree Lake

  139. Steusser Lake

  140. Still Lake

  141. St. George Lake

  142. Sucker Lake

  143. Sudden Lake

  144. Tanlund Lake

  145. Taylor Lake

  146. Tepee Lake

  147. Thousand Island Lake

  148. Toots Lake

  149. Trail Lake

  150. Trapper Lake

  151. Very Sudden Pond

  152. Victoria Reservoir

  153. Violet Lake

  154. Weary Lake

  155. West Bay Lake

  156. Winslow Lake

  157. Wolf Lake

  158. York Lake

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