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Trilling their distinctive call, loons glide across the surface of Wabana Lake, dodging in and out of the mist rising from the exceptionally clear water. They share the early morning with anglers searching for the walleye that make their home in this Minnesota lake. Connected to the Wabana Chain of Lakes, both birds and boats can float around 35 miles of shoreline without visiting the same place twice. With more than two-thirds of the lake's 2,133 acres surrounded by the Chippewa Nation Forest, the hidden coves, tree-lined inlets and bays are perfect places to explore by canoe or kayak. Whether it's a quiet early morning paddle, an afternoon jet skiing and sunbathing, or the quest for the "big one," Wabana Lake is a northeast Minnesota destination sure to delight the entire family.
Wabana Lake in Itasca County is part of the Wabana Chain of Lakes which includes Trout Lake, Bluewater Lake, and Little Trout Lake. The lakes were formed from ice-block pits left behind by glaciers. Little Wabana Lake is the smallest of the lakes and has a surface area of 105 acres with a maximum depth of 57 feet and an average depth of 30 feet. Covering 1,659 acres, Trout Lake is the second largest lake in the chain. It has a maximum depth of 160 feet, making it the deepest of the four lakes, with an average depth of just over 45 feet. Both Trout Lake and Little Wabana Lake have year round residential development and vacation rentals along with public access from concrete boat ramps.
Bluewater Lake has 370 surface acres of water with a maximum depth of 100 feet and an average depth of 60 feet. It has lakefront homes and cottages but no public access. It is, however, connected to Wabana Lake, and Bluewater Lake can be reached by boat through Wabana Lake's Wakeman Bay. Two concrete boat ramps provide access to Wabana Lake. This natural lake was dammed in 1872 and has a maximum depth of 115 feet and an average depth of 27 feet. Wabana Lake has a sandy bottom and is the largest lake in the chain.
Black crappie, rock bass, largemouth bass, bluegill and sunfish can all be found in Wabana Lake. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stocks the lake with walleye, making it the most popular game fish in the lake. Trout fishermen can navigate the channel between Wabana and Bluewater Lakes for the trout that fill the lake. Ice fishing is popular in winter. Minor fish advisories (see below) are in place for the lakes, but both are exceptionally clean and classified as oligotrophic.
Wabana Lake is 13 miles north of the city of Grand Rapids which has restaurants, shops and any amenities a visitor might need. The lake is surrounded on three sides by the Chippewa National Forest which covers 666,542 acres. The forest shares boundaries with the Forest and Leech Lake Indian Reservations. It was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt and was the first national forest created east of the Mississippi River. The national forest has trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding; winter brings out enthusiasts for cross country skiing, snowmobiling and downhill skiing near Wabana Lake.
Northeast Minnesota has ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, and Wabana Chain of Lakes is a fantastic place to start. Swimming, boating and four seasons of fishing combine to make Wabana Lake a getaway with something to please everyone.
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