21The Chisago Lakes Area is a short 35 minute drive north from Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN and is well known for our many interconnected lakes. The First Nation People, (Ojibway) called the lake, Kichisaga, “Fair and Lovely Water” which a clerk misspelled to “Chisago”.

Throughout the Chisago Lakes Area we are blessed with beautiful lakes and rivers. In summer, we and our visitors enjoy fishing, boating, sailing and canoeing and in the winter we ice fish, snowmobile and ski.

Our desire is to expand and formalize a water trail to increase our recreational opportunities and get youth and adults outside and exercising.

The MN State Water Trails system began in 1963, and is the first and largest in the nation. Water Trails are recreational routes on waterways that are managed for canoeing, kayaking, paddle boards and camping. State Water Trails are located throughout MN and provide paddling opportunities for all ability levels. The MN DNR and its local partners manage more than 4,500 miles of mapped routes in MN, with more than 1,500 facilities (public accesses, campsites, rest areas and portages).

In order to attract attention and expand the use of Water Trails, the MN DNR and its partners held the Minnesota Water Trails Tourism Summit in 2014 and brought together over 140 community representatives and paddling enthusiasts from across the country. The summit was the first of its kind in the nation, bringing together tourism and outdoor recreation interests to build a communities’ capacity to promote paddle sports.

Chisago Lakes was represented at this summit and began development of our suburban, “Chisago Lakes Water Trail”. Similar to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness concept, we have created a smaller more accessible canoe, kayak and paddle boarding route complete with portages and campsites. Our system though, is only 35 minutes from the Twin Cities and boasts access to motels, restaurants, coffee shops, cell phone service, a canoes/kayak vending machine and delivery pizza. We’re like, “Boundary Waters Lite”.

The Chisago Lakes Water Trail includes 13 miles of trails and traverses through 10 individual Lakes with over 5,000 acres of water and ice. Yes, ice! Not only is our system usable in the summer but we expect to use our trails and camping in the winter for snow shoeing, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing. Making this trail a truly multi-seasonal resource.

The trail project was added to the America’s Best Communities competition and now is one of the projects proceeding toward the next phase of competition.

Chisago Lakes Water Trail Facts

20Ten of the lakes are connected through small channels and/or short portages.

The Chisago Lakes Watershed is about 10 miles long and 9.3 miles wide. There are 19 major lakes in the Chisago Lakes Chain of Lakes Watershed: Bloom, Chisago, Emily, Green, Kroon, Linn, Little, Little Green, Mattson, North Center, North Lindstrom, Ogren, Pioneer, School, South Center, South Lindstrom, Spider, Swamp, and Wallmark.