The Winter Park Chain of Lakes is one of the most important environmental attributes that draws people to this Central Florida town. For the founders of of this city, the lakes provided a perfect setting for establishing a winter residential community for wealthy Northerners.
There are six lakes that make up the popular Chain of Lakes, Mizell, Virginia, Osceola, Maitland, Minnehaha and Nina. These lakes encompass 999 acres and are popular for fishing, boating, water skiing, kyaking, paddleboarding and other types of water sports.
Some of the largest and most beautiful mansions in this city can be seen along the water’s edge of all of these lakes.
The city has three other lakes, making lake-front ownership available to many. Lakes Baldwin, Berry and Sue are stand-alone bodies of water within the boundaries of the town.
Lake Maitland is the largest of the lakes in the chain at 449 acres. It spans portions of Winter Park and Maitland to the north. The exclusive areas that share this lake are the Isle of Sicily and the neighborhood known as The Vias. Canals connect Lakes Maitland, Virginia and Osceola and were actually waterways for the logging industry in the early days of the town. The Fern canal connects Lakes Virginia and Osceola, it is the Venetian Canal that provides access between Lake Osceola and Lake Maitland.
Second in size to Lake Maitland is Lake Virginia at 225 acres, and is within the town’s boundaries On the shores of this lake is Rollins College which has one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Co-eds at Rollins enjoy lakeside living, with easy access to boating,water skiing and paddleboarding.
Lake Virginia is home to the only lakeside public park, in the city. It is on the northern shore of Lake Virginia, and is known as Dinky Dock Park. This park features a sandy beach, boat ramp, and dock.
Lake Virginia is also home to one of Winter Park’s most famous historical homes and estates, Wind Song. The original house, built in 1938 and property are owned and maintained by Rollins College. The property has been turned into a preserve and sanctuary for the peacocks that were introduced to the area in 1950.
This lakes is usually the first one anyone sees, since its shores are just two block from Park Avenue. Third in size, Osceola encompasses 156 acres. The Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour operates from this lake at the foot of Morse Blvd, and takes patrons through the three largest lakes.
To get from Lake Maitland to Lake Minnehaha, one needs to be mindful of the size of the watercraft. Navigating the canal can be tricky in the larger pontoon boats. This lake is in Maitland and at 98 acres, is still quite a nice size body of water for all types of activities.
Accessible from Lake Virginia, Lake Mizell and is only 62 acres in size. There is a sizable portion of shoreline that abuts the Wind Song estate, and the new neighborhood of Windsong that was carved out of the estate in the late 1990s.
This tiny 9 acre lake is actually a slight interlude between Lakes Maitland and Minnehaha. The shoreline is mostly natural foliage and boat traffic is minimal.