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Love Where You Live in a Freshwater Paradise
The Waupaca Chain O’ Lakes is a series of 22 connected spring-fed lakes spread across a total area of more than 700 acres. The chain has attracted visitors and new residents for generations, who come to enjoy a wide range of activities including swimming, canoeing, sail boarding, hiking, fishing, boating, waterskiing, and more.
History of the Chain O’ Lakes
The Chain O’ Lakes was created more than 12,500 years ago after the Cary Glacier melted, leaving a landscape of irregular valleys and hills. Deposits of rocks, sand, gravel and other organic matter sank to the bottom of many valleys, creating a unique terrain. Massive chunks of ice slowly melted into deep pits, which formed all of the lakes included in today’s chain.
A number of natural springs were also uncovered due to the glacier’s movement. These springs feed pure water to the lakes, acting as a natural filtration system which maintains the water’s crystal clear quality.
The blue-green color of the lakes comes from the reflection of deposits sitting at the bottom of every lake. Varying amounts of clay, limestone, alkaline, and other organic deposits create vivid shades of green on most of the lakes – the McCrossen, Marl, Nessling, Round, and Taylor lakes are known to have deep emerald shades.
Things to do in the Chain O’ Lakes area
- Canoeing can be enjoyed on any of the 22 lakes. Some of the lakes are structured as “fast lakes” while others have slow waters with no appreciable wake. Columbia Lake, Rainbow Lake, Long Lake, and Round Lake are fast lakes that are excellent for activities like tubing, water skiing, and wakeboarding. Lakes belonging to the “Upper Chain” are small no-wake lakes that are only reachable via Beasley Creek on canoe or kayak.
- The 207-acre Rainbow Lake is one of the top spots for fishing enthusiasts. The lake has a maximum depth of 95 feet, with moderately clear water quality. Fish you can catch at the lake include Musky, Walleye, Trout, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Panfish, and Northern Pike.
- Clear Water Harbor is a lakeside hub where visitors can enjoy live music, a delicious meal, and the serene views of the Chain O’ Lakes. The venue also offers historical tours aboard their two vessels, the “Lady of the Lakes” motor yacht and “Chief Waupaca,” an authentic double-decker steam wheeler. Whether you’re joining the public tour, a brunch cruise, or booking a private charter, tours offered by Clear Water Harbor are sure to provide an unforgettable experience.
- Located along the scenic Chain O’ Lakes is Hartman Creek State Park, a gem of an outdoor destination jam-packed with features such as hiking and biking trails, camping sites, boat rentals, a nature center, an amphitheater, and more.
- Locals and visitors look forward to a ton of events happening around the Chain O’ Lakes every year, such as the Polar Plunge, 4th of July fireworks, boat parades, the Chain Skiers show, and Civil War reenactments.