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 September 11, 2022 I have visited 142 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.

  1. Allen Lake

  2. Amber Lake

  3. Anderson Lake

  4. Arc Lake

  5. Balcomb Lake

  6. Barclay Pond

  7. Bass Lake

  8. Beatons Lake

  9. Beitner Lake

  10. Bender Lake

  11. Big Lake

  12. Big African Lake

  13. Big Bateau Lake

  14. Bob Lake

  15. Bond Falls Flowage

  16. Brush Lake

  17. Buck Lake

  18. Bud Lake

  19. Bum Lake

  20. Castle Lake

  21. Chamberlain Lake

  22. Chapman Lake

  23. Chief Edwards Lake

  24. Cisco Lake

  25. Clark Lake

  26. Clear Lake

  27. Clearwater Lake

  28. Club Lake

  29. Cougar Lake

  30. County Line Lake

  31. Courtney Lake

  32. Crooked Lake

  33. Cub Lake

  34. Deadman Lake

  35. Deer Lake

  36. Deer Island Lake

  37. Dorothy Lake

  38. East Bay Lake

  39. Echo Lake

  40. Elsie Lake

  41. Erickson Lake

  42. Estes Lake

  43. Fisher Lake

  44. Fishhawk Lake

  45. Florence Lake

  46. Forest Lake

  47. Frog Pond

  48. Fuller Lake

  49. Gasley Lake

  50. Germain Lake

  51. Glare Lake

  52. Glimmerglass Lake

  53. Glitter Lake

  54. Golden Lake

  55. Grosse Lake

  56. Hager Lake

  57. Hannah Webb Lake

  58. Harding Lake

  59. Hay Lake

  60. Hehe Lake

  61. Helen Lake

  62. Hemlock Lake

  63. Hidden Lake

  64. High Lake

  65. Hobo Lake

  66. Houser Lake

  67. Howe Lake

  68. Indian Lake

  69. Interior Lake

  70. Irish Lake

  71. Jay Lake

  72. Jingle Lake

  73. Kentucky Lake

  74. Killdeer Lake

  75. Kunze Lake

  76. Kvidera Lake

  77. LaCrosse Lake

  78. Lake Gogebic

  79. Lake On-Three

  80. Lake Sainte Kathryn

  81. Lake Thirteen

  82. Lake Twentyeight

  83. Liluis Lake

  84. Lindsley Lake

  85. Little African Lake

  86. Little Castle Lake

  87. Little Nesbit Lake

  88. Little Wolf Lake

  89. Long Lake

  90. Loon Lake

  91. Louise Lake

  92. Lower Dam Lake

  93. Madelyn Lake

  94. Mamie Lake

  95. Markey Lake

  96. Marion Lake

  97. Mattie Lake

  98. Moon Lake

  99. Mountain Lake

  100. Morley Lake

  101. Mule Lake

  102. Nesbit Lake

  103. Norway Lake

  104. Ox Yoke Lake

  105. Paulding Pond

  106. Penegor Lake

  107. Perch Lake (Iron County)

  108. Perch Lake (Gogebic County)

  109. Poor Lake

  110. Prickett Lake

  111. Quiver Lake

  112. Record Lake

  113. Robbins Pond

  114. Robinson Lake

  115. Rock Lake

  116. Rookery Lake

  117. Roost Lake

  118. Sand Lake

  119. Sandy Lake

  120. Saunder Lake

  121. Silk Lake

  122. Skyline Lake

  123. Snap Jack Lake

  124. Spree Lake

  125. Steusser Lake

  126. Still Lake

  127. St. George Lake

  128. Sucker Lake

  129. Sudden Lake

  130. Tanlund Lake

  131. Taylor Lake

  132. Tepee Lake

  133. Thousand Island Lake

  134. Toots Lake

  135. Very Sudden Pond

  136. Victoria Reservoir

  137. Violet Lake

  138. Weary Lake

  139. West Bay Lake

  140. Winslow Lake

  141. Wolf Lake

  142. York Lake