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. 

crazy paddle.jpg
Lake Thirteen fall paddling.jpg

As of October 24, 2022 I have visited 154 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.  That last one is easier said than done considering the vast majority of back roads in the Ottawa NF aren't plowed, making lakes tough to access.

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. Deadman Lake

  37. Deer Lake

  38. Deer Island Lake

  39. Devils Head Lake

  40. Dorothy Lake

  41. Doyle Lake

  42. East Bay Lake

  43. Echo Lake

  44. Elsie Lake

  45. Erickson Lake

  46. Estes Lake

  47. Fisher Lake

  48. Fishhawk Lake

  49. Florence Lake

  50. Forest Lake

  51. Frog Pond

  52. Fuller Lake

  53. Gasley Lake

  54. Germain Lake

  55. Glare Lake

  56. Glimmerglass Lake

  57. Glitter Lake

  58. Golden Lake

  59. Grosse Lake

  60. Hager Lake

  61. Hannah Webb Lake

  62. Harding Lake

  63. Hay Lake

  64. Hehe Lake

  65. Helen Lake

  66. Hemlock Lake

  67. Hidden Lake

  68. High Lake

  69. Hilltop Lake

  70. Hobo Lake

  71. Houser Lake

  72. Howe Lake

  73. Indian Lake

  74. Interior Lake

  75. Irish Lake

  76. Jay Lake

  77. Jingle Lake

  78. Katherine Lake

  79. Kentucky Lake

  80. Killdeer Lake

  81. Kunze Lake

  82. Kvidera Lake

  83. LaCrosse Lake

  84. Lake Gogebic

  85. Lake On-Three

  86. Lake Sainte Kathryn

  87. Lake Thirteen

  88. Lake Twentyeight

  89. Liluis Lake

  90. Lindsley Lake

  91. Little African Lake

  92. Little Castle Lake

  93. Little Duck Lake

  94. Little Nesbit Lake

  95. Little Trail Lake

  96. Little Wolf Lake

  97. Long Lake

  98. Loon Lake

  99. Louise Lake

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

  101. Madelyn Lake

  102. Mamie Lake

  103. Markey Lake

  104. Marion Lake

  105. Mattie Lake

  106. Moon Lake

  107. Mountain Lake

  108. Morley Lake

  109. Mule Lake

  110. Nesbit Lake

  111. Norway Lake

  112. Ox Yoke Lake

  113. Pats Lake

  114. Paulding Pond

  115. Penegor Lake

  116. Perch Lake (Iron County)

  117. Perch Lake (Gogebic County)

  118. Pit Lake

  119. Poor Lake

  120. Prickett Lake

  121. Quiver Lake

  122. Record Lake

  123. Robbins Pond

  124. Robinson Lake

  125. Rock Lake

  126. Rookery Lake

  127. Roost Lake

  128. Sand Lake

  129. Sandy Lake

  130. Saunder Lake

  131. Silk Lake

  132. Skyline Lake

  133. Snap Jack Lake

  134. Spree Lake

  135. Steusser Lake

  136. Still Lake

  137. St. George Lake

  138. Sucker Lake

  139. Sudden Lake

  140. Tanlund Lake

  141. Taylor Lake

  142. Tepee Lake

  143. Thousand Island Lake

  144. Toots Lake

  145. Trail Lake

  146. Trapper Lake

  147. Very Sudden Pond

  148. Victoria Reservoir

  149. Violet Lake

  150. Weary Lake

  151. West Bay Lake

  152. Winslow Lake

  153. Wolf Lake

  154. York Lake