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Bde Maka Ska is the largest lake in Minneapolis. It joins the Lake of the Isles through a long channel and is the biggest lake of five that make up the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Surrounded by city park land and circled by bike and walking trails, it is popular for many outdoor activities like canoeing, fishing, wind surging, swimming, sailing, and of course, biking.

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Plan the Perfect Minneapolis Lake Day at the Chain of Lakes

General Activities to Enjoy Throughout the Chain of Lakes

Strolling, Rolling, and Biking

With over 13 miles of pedestrian trails and another 15 miles of bike trails, taking in the lakes in the Chain of Lakes on foot or wheels is popular among locals and visitors. Whether you pedal the entire loop to get in your cardio or use the trails to find the ultimate Minneapolis photo op, the pedestrian and biking trails are a fun (and free!) way to take in some of the best views Minneapolis has to offer. (Need some wheels? Plenty of bike rental options are available throughout the city, making it easy to start your two-wheeled adventure.)

Enjoy a Designated Swimming Spot

Several Chain of Lakes beaches provide easy access to the water for wading, swimming, and splashing. Bde Maka Ska features three (32nd Street Beach, North Beach, and Thomas Beach), Lake Harriet offers two (North Beach and Southeast Beach), and Cedar Lake is home to another three (East Beach, Point Beach, and South Beach). Be sure to follow all posted rules and beach advisory notices, which can be found on the Minneapolis Parks website.

Get On the Water

Canoe, kayak, bike, boat, and paddle board rentals are offered through Wheel Fun Rentals. Boat launches are available northeast of Bde Maka Ska and east of the Bandshell at Lake Harriet. Yes, it is possible to kayak between most of the lakes in the Chain of Lakes! The lakes are connected by a series of channels that allow boaters to travel from one lake to the next (Lake Harriet was never officially connected to the chain due to a seven-foot elevation difference that would have required locks). It’s important to note that kayaking between the lakes requires some skill and experience, as there may be some rapids and currents to navigate. Additionally, it’s essential to follow all safety guidelines and wear appropriate safety gear, such as life jackets. Plan ahead and research the route before setting out on your adventure!

Watch the Sunrise or Sunset

Photographers (and all lovers of natural beauty) flock to the shores of the Chain of Lakes for some of the best sunset views in Minneapolis. South Harriet and East Bde Maka Ska are especially notable spots, but you can enjoy the light show from any lake location with a clear view of the sky.


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