Central Florida Lakes Guide – Lake County – Clermont Chain

Lake Louisa

We recently introduced you to Lake County’s Harris Chain of Lakes. Another popular series of waterways to explore in Lake County is the Clermont Chain, which runs southeast to northwest, parallel to US 27. Making up the middle portion of the Palatlakaha River watershed (which forms the headwaters of the Ocklawaha River), the lakes of the Clermont Chain are known for their red to tea-colored waters.

West of Orlando in the town of Clermont lies the network of picturesque lakes forming the Clermont Chain, connected by the Palatlakaha River, and collectively creating the “Wakeboarding Capital of the World”.

The Clermont Chain of Lakes totals 8,692 acres of waterways ranging in size from 20 acres to 3,634 acres. The Clermont Chain includes Lake Cherry, Cook Lake, Lake Wilson, Lake Minneola, Lake Hiawatha, Lake Palatlakaha, Lake Minnehaha, Lake Winona, Crescent Lake, Lake Susan, and Lake Louisa. 

Further north (technically in the town of Groveland), Lake Lucy (346 acres) and Lake Emma (173 acres) are also considered part of this chain. These spring fed lakes are surrounded by rolling hills in a rural setting quite apart from the Orlando norm.

Cypress trees line the shores of the lakes, with sunken trees and shallow dredge holes throughout the chain providing exceptional largemouth bass opportunities. Anglers will also find catfish, crappie and speckled perch in abundance. Genuinely some of the best waters in the state!

The main boat ramp for the chain is located on the southern end of Lake Minneola in downtown Clermont, with another (smaller) access ramp on the southern end on the Palatlakaha River, by Lake Louisa. The Wakeboarding Camp, a year-round school devoted entirely to wakeboard instruction, is located on Lake Minneola.

The Main Chain

The three largest lakes, Louisa, Minnehaha, and Minneola constitute the main part of the chain.

Lake Louisa is the largest lake at 3,573 acres. Generally shallow (up to about 10-feet), It features Lake Louisa State Park on its southern shore, where you’ll find many of the lake’s primary inflows, including Little Creek and Big Creek.

Crooked Creek flows from Lake Louisa’s northern end into Lake Susan, a small lake with shallow depth, surrounded by Florida swampland. There is a publicly accessible boat ramp on Crooked Creek.

A short river connects Lake Susan to Lake Minnehaha, the second largest lake on the Clermont Chain. Lake Minnehaha reaches areas greater than 18 feet in depth, with an average of 14 feet. The Cypress Cove swampland adorns the northwest shoreline. 

A neck connects Lake Minnehaha to Lake Palatlakaha, and a canal connects Lake Palatlakaha to Lake Hiawatha, both of which are largely undeveloped.

A neck separates Lake Hiawatha from Lake Minneola, the third largest lake on the chain and the deepest, at an average depth around 18 feet, with parts approaching near 30 feet deep. Lake Minneola is also the most developed lake with the most opportunity for lakeside exploration and activity. There is a public boat ramp and swimming area at Waterfront Park, as well as bicycle and kayak rentals to access both the chain of lakes and the many trails in the area. The South Lake Trail is a ‘Rails to Trails” path that connects to the popular West Orange Trail. Make sure to catch a break at Lilly’s on the Lake!

Smaller Lakes Within The Chain

Crescent Lake in South Clermont is connected to Lake Minnehaha via Lake Hattie and Lake Williamee through a canal connecting all four. Crescent Lake has the Crescent Cove bay at its south end. 

Lake Winona in Clermont is on a peninsula separating Minneola from Minnehaha, connected to Minnehaha by a canal.

Northern Chain

North of the main chain, the Palatlakaha River is lined with 8 lakes within the city of Groveland, including: the swampy shores of Hunt Lake, Cook Lake, and Stewart Lake, as well as Lake Cherry (the fourth largest on the Clermont Chain), and the sandy hill shores of Lakes Lucy and Emma

Heart Lake is separated from the Palatlakaha River by a dike with a water level control dam in it. After Heart Lake, the Palatlakaha River flows to Lake Harris and the Harris Chain of Lakes.

Palatlakaha Run, the longest water trail in the Lake County Blueways system, offers more than 26 miles for paddling along the chain. The deepest spots in the entire chain are about 26 feet with the majority considerably shallower. The unpopulated areas of the shorelines are wetlands harboring a wide variety of native wildlife.

The Clermont Chain of Lakes is one of the most pristine in central Florida, but water color varies according to water source. Some lakes are primarily spring-fed and clear, while others gain their water from nearby Green Swamp and offer water tinted by tannin.