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Lake Chapin is a hidden gem. 

Tucked between St. Joseph Valley Parkway and M-139, this 600-acre lake is St. Joseph Rivers’ perfect intermission between Niles and Lake Michigan. This reservoir spans roughly 600 acres, and is home to motorboats, jet-skis, canoes, and kayaks. 

The lake is full of character, too. At the north end, a mere 1,000 feet south of six hydroelectric dams, you’ll find remnants of what once was a bridge built in the early 1900s. The bridge spanned across the lake, held up by concrete supports that still exist today. The dam, meanwhile, was constructed in 1908. It’s one of the oldest in the state. 

As you follow the lake south towards Buchanan, you’ll find it hard to not get distracted by the wooded shoreline, particularly in the autumn months. And this lake is not unkind to fishermen, either. They may find themselves with buckets of bass, walleye, salmon and steelhead. 

For many looking for access to the lake, it may feel a bit too “hidden”. Unless you live on the lake, access can be difficult. But it’s not impossible. 

Miami Marina Boat Launch is a popular entry boat, located on the east side of the St. Joseph River off East River Road in Buchanan. 

Closer to Berrien Springs you’ll find the Berrien Springs Boat Club (BSBC), which offers access to the lake off S. Mechanic Street (just south of the dams). The fee is $105 for new members looking to register a motorized boat. Canoers, kayakers, and all non-motorized boats pay $50. There are different rates for returning members. More information can be found on the BSBC site: http://bsboatclub.org/

According to the Village of Berrien Springs’ President, Jesse Hibler, a project is in the planning stages to redesign Grove Park, located at the end of South Main Street, and provide a public launch site. Keep an eye out for updates on this project as it develops.