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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 17 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 September 10, 2023 I have visited 185 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 if you're about to make a big mistake and to make waves towards better options elsewhere. Underlined lakes have linked 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. Calderwood Pond

  22. Camp Lake

  23. Castle Lake

  24. Chamberlain Lake

  25. Chapman Lake

  26. Chickadee Lake

  27. Chief Edwards Lake

  28. Cisco Lake

  29. Clark Lake

  30. Clear Lake

  31. Clear Lake (Ontonagon County)

  32. Clearwater Lake

  33. Club Lake

  34. Cougar Lake

  35. County Line Lake

  36. Courtney Lake

  37. Cranberry Lake

  38. Crooked Lake

  39. Cub Lake

  40. Curry Lake

  41. Cutters Pond

  42. Dead River Headwaters

  43. Deadman Lake

  44. Deer Lake

  45. Deer Island Lake

  46. Devils Head Lake

  47. Dinner Lake

  48. Doe Lake

  49. Dorothy Lake

  50. Doyle Lake

  51. East Bay Lake

  52. Echo Lake

  53. Elsie Lake

  54. Erickson Lake

  55. Estes Lake

  56. Fisher Lake

  57. Fishhawk Lake

  58. Florence Lake

  59. Forest Lake

  60. Frog Pond

  61. Fuller Lake

  62. Gasley Lake

  63. Germain Lake

  64. Glare Lake

  65. Glimmerglass Lake

  66. Glitter Lake

  67. Golden Lake

  68. Grass Lake

  69. Grosse Lake

  70. Hager Lake

  71. Hannah Webb Lake

  72. Harding Lake

  73. Hay Lake

  74. Haywire Lake

  75. Hehe Lake

  76. Helen Lake

  77. Hemlock Lake

  78. Hidden Lake

  79. High Lake

  80. Hilltop Lake

  81. Hobo Lake

  82. Houser Lake

  83. Howe Lake

  84. Imp Lake

  85. Indian Lake

  86. Interior Lake

  87. Irish Lake

  88. Jay Lake

  89. Jingle Lake

  90. Katherine Lake

  91. Kentucky Lake

  92. Killdeer Lake

  93. Kunze Lake

  94. Kvidera Lake

  95. LaCrosse Lake

  96. Lac Vieux Desert

  97. Lake Gogebic

  98. Lake On-Three

  99. Lake Raymond

  100. Lake Sainte Kathryn

  101. Lake Thirteen

  102. Lake Twentyeight

  103. Liluis Lake

  104. Lindsley Lake

  105. Little African Lake

  106. Little Castle Lake

  107. Little Duck Lake

  108. Little Nesbit Lake

  109. Little Trail Lake

  110. Little Wolf Lake

  111. Long Lake

  112. Loon Lake

  113. Louise Lake

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

  115. Lower Holmes Lake

  116. Madelyn Lake

  117. Mamie Lake

  118. Markey Lake

  119. Marion Lake

  120. Mattie Lake

  121. Moon Lake

  122. Mountain Lake

  123. Morley Lake

  124. Mule Lake

  125. Murphy Lake

  126. Nesbit Lake

  127. Norway Lake

  128. Opal Lake

  129. Ox Yoke Lake

  130. Pats Lake

  131. Paulding Pond

  132. Paw Lake

  133. Penegor Lake

  134. Pequet Lake

  135. Perch Lake (Iron County)

  136. Perch Lake (Gogebic County)

  137. Pilot Lake

  138. Pit Lake

  139. Poker Lake

  140. Poor Lake

  141. Prickett Lake

  142. Quiver Lake

  143. Rabbitz Lake

  144. Record Lake

  145. Rickles Lake

  146. Robbins Pond

  147. Robinson Lake

  148. Rock Lake

  149. Rookery Lake

  150. Roost Lake

  151. Sand Lake

  152. Sandy Lake

  153. Saunder Lake

  154. Schneider Lake

  155. Scout Lake

  156. Section 13 Lake

  157. Silk Lake

  158. Sixmile Lake

  159. Skyline Lake

  160. Snap Jack Lake

  161. Spree Lake

  162. Steusser Lake

  163. Still Lake

  164. St. George Lake

  165. Sucker Lake

  166. Sudden Lake

  167. Sun Lake

  168. Syrup (Eagle) Lake

  169. Tanlund Lake

  170. Taylor Lake

  171. Tepee Lake

  172. Thousand Island Lake

  173. Tinsel Lake

  174. Toots Lake

  175. Trail Lake

  176. Trapper Lake

  177. Twist Lake

  178. Very Sudden Pond

  179. Victoria Reservoir

  180. Violet Lake

  181. Weary Lake

  182. West Bay Lake

  183. Winslow Lake

  184. Wolf Lake

  185. York Lake

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