Spring, summer and fall of 2009, I spent traveling, hiking, canoeing, swimming and camping around the Great Lakes. Detailed information on hiking, climbing, bouldering, canoeing you can be found in separate album. The Great Lakes are located in eastern North America, on the Canada – United States border.
The Great Lakes and their connecting channels form the largest fresh surface water system on Earth. The Great Lakes, in their current state, are actually one of the youngest natural features on the North American continent. Covering more than 94,000 square miles and draining more than twice as much land, these Freshwater Seas hold an estimated 6 quadrillion gallons of water, about one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water supply and nine-tenths of the U.S. supply.
The channels that connect the Great Lakes are an important part of the system. The St. Mary's River is the northernmost of these, a 60-mile waterway flowing from Lake Superior down to Lake Huron. At the St. Mary's rapids, the Soo Locks bypass the rough waters, providing safe transport for ships. The St. Clair and Detroit rivers, and Lake St. Clair between them, form an 89-mile long channel connecting Lake Huron with Lake Erie. The 35-mile Niagara River links lakes Erie and Ontario, and sends approximately 50,000 to 100,000 cubic feet of water per second over Niagara Falls; the man-made Welland Canal also links the two lakes, providing a detour around the falls. From Lake Ontario, the water from the Great Lakes flows through the St. Lawrence River all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,000 miles away.
Additional information on each lake can be found under the links of each name. Some albums are still under construction.
Not only is Lake Superior
the largest of the Great Lakes, it also has the largest surface area of any freshwater lake in the world. It contains almost 3,000 cubic miles of water, an amount that could fill all the other Great Lakes plus three additional Lake Eries. With an average depth approaching 500 feet, Superior also is the coldest and deepest (1,332 feet) of the Great Lakes. The lake stretches approximately 350 miles from west to east, and 160 miles north to south, with a shoreline almost 2,800 miles long. The drainage basin, totaling 49,300 square miles, encompasses parts of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario. Most of the Superior basin is sparsely populated, and heavily forested, with little agriculture because of a cool climate and poor soils.
The St. Mary's River is connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron (see lake Huron for more information).
Click on Lake Superior
for additional information
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
, the second largest Great Lake by volume with just under 1,180 cubic miles of water, is the only Great Lake entirely within the United States. Approximately 118 miles wide and 307 miles long, Lake Michigan has more than 1,600 miles of shoreline. Averaging 279 feet in depth, the lake reaches 925 feet at its deepest point. The lake's northern tier is in the colder, less developed upper Great Lakes region, while its more temperate southern basin contains the Milwaukee and Chicago metropolitan areas. The drainage basin, approximately twice as large as the 22,300 square miles of surface water, includes portions of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Lake Michigan is hydrologically inseparable from Lake Huron, joined by the wide Straits of Mackinac.
Bruce Peninsula National Park of CanadaLake Huron
is the second largest Great Lake by surface area and the fifth largest freshwater lake in the world.
It has the longest shoreline of the Great Lakes, counting the shorelines of its 30,000 islands.
Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater island in the world.
Georgian Bay and Saginaw Bay are the two largest bays on the Great Lakes.
Early explorers listed Georgian Bay as a separate sixth lake because it is nearly separated from the rest of Lake Huron by Manitoulin Island and the Bruce Peninsula.
Georgian Bay is large enough to be among the world's 20 largest lakes.
Huron receives the flow from both Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, but water flows through Lake Huron (retention time) much more quickly than through either of them.
Huron was the first of the Great Lakes to be discovered by European explorers.
Shipwrecks are scattered throughout the lake, with five bottomland preserves in Michigan and a national park in Ontario designated to protect the most historically significant ones.
The Lake Huron basin is heavily forested, sparsely populated, scenically beautiful, and economically dependent on its rich natural resources.
Lake Huron is connected with Lake Superior with The St. Mary's River
(French: rivière Sainte-Marie), sometimes written as the St. Marys River. This river drains Lake Superior, starting at the end of Whitefish Bay and flowing 120 km (74.5 miles) southeast into Lake Huron, with a fall of 23 feet.  For its entire length it is an international border, separating Michigan in the United States from Ontario, Canada.
The most important area along the river are the rapids and the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, with the most famous man-made feature being the Soo Locks. The rapids of the St. Mary's (Sault Sainte Marie in French) are just below the river's exit from Lake Superior.
For climbing information follow this link Lake Huron
Shore of Wheatley Provincial ParkLake Erie
is the smallest of the Great Lakes in volume (119 cubic miles) and is exposed to the greatest effects from urbanization and agriculture. Measuring 241 miles across and 57 miles from north to south, the lake's surface is just under 10,000 square miles, with 871 miles of shoreline. The average depth of Lake Erie is only about 62 feet (210 feet, maximum). It therefore warms rapidly in the spring and summer, and frequently freezes over in winter. The drainage basin covers parts of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario. Because of its fertile soils, the basin is intensively farmed and is the most densely populated of the five lake basins.
Click Lake Erie
for more details
View from the CN Tower Toronto
Lake Ontario is similar to Lake Erie in length and breadth (193 miles by 53 miles). Yet with its greater average depth (approximately 283 feet), Lake Ontario holds almost four times the volume (395 cubic miles) and has a retention time of about 6 years. The drainage basin covers parts of Ontario and New York, and a small portion of Pennsylvania. Major urban industrial centers, such as Hamilton, Toronto and Mississauga are located on its shore. The U.S. shore is less urbanized and is not intensively farmed.
In working process
For more information:Provincial parks of Canada
National parks of Canada
US State parks
Information in these albums taken from www.great-lakes.net and wikipedia
Lake Superior Parks
Pennsylvania state parks