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Northern Michigan's Small Gem Lakes


The Small Gem Lakes include: Larks, Long, Twin, Susan, Marion, Nowland, Deer, Huffman, Thumb, Silver, Wildwood, Geneva, Birch, and Bass.

In the Watershed Council's service area there are nearly 60 lakes greater than 100 acres in size, and 14 of these are among the State's largest with over 1000 acres of lake-surface area. The region also boasts some of the State's deepest lakes with five lakes having maximum depths of 100 feet or more. These grandiose water bodies, such as Torch Lake or Lake Charlevoix, are quite popular among water enthusiasts. However, there are many smaller, yet equally magnificent lakes that are, for the most part, overlooked and unknown - the hidden gems of Northern Michigan.

Some of the gem lakes include Larks, Long, Twin, Susan, Marion, Nowland, Deer, Huffman, Thumb, Silver, Wildwood, Geneva, Birch, and Bass. Although often overlooked by the typical recreationalist, these hidden treasures are highly valued by the Watershed Council. Each of the small gem lakes provide an escape where one can go enjoy a relaxing day on the water in relative peace; soaking up sights and sounds of the lake ecosystem. Over the last few decades, the Watershed Council has put forth great effort to preserve these lake gems and ensure they remain high quality resources for the enjoyment of future generations.

Deer Lake

Size: 443 acres

Deer Lake, located between Boyne Falls and Boyne City in Charlevoix County, is considered to be one of the small gem lakes of our service area. Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council highly values small lakes as they provide an escape where one can go enjoy a relaxing day on the water in relative peace; soaking up sights and sounds of the lake ecosystem instead of those from other people. Over the last few decades, the Watershed Council has put forth great effort to preserve the small gem lake in our service area and ensure they remain high quality resources for the enjoyment of future generations.

Deer Lake is #7 on the map below.

Bass Lake

Bass Lake

Surface Area:       144 acres
Maximum Depth:   24 feet
Average Depth:     10 feet

Bass Lake 2000-2002 Volunteer Lake Monitoring Results

 In 2000, Bass Lake had an average summer Secchi disc measurement of 9.5 feet. The deepest Secchi disc measurement was 10.5 feet and the shallowest was 7.5 feet. Using the average data, the Trophic Status Index (TSI) was 45.

The average 2001 Secchi disc measurement for Bass Lake was 9.2 feet and average chlorophyll-a concentration was 1.3 micrograms per liter. The deepest water clarity measurement was 10 feet and the shallowest was 8 feet. The TSI in 2001 was 39. 2002 had an average Secchi disc measurement of 10 feet and average chlorophyll-a concentration of 4.6 micrograms per liter. The deepest water clarity measurement was 11 feet and the shallowest was 9 feet. The TSI was 46. The TSI for Bass Lake varied from 39-46 over the last three years, classifying the lake as mesotrophic. Mesotrophic lakes are considered to have good water quality.

Many thanks to Volunteer Lake Monitor Dan Sinclair for donating his time and energy to collect water quality data for Bass Lake.

Bass Lake is #14 on the map below.

Larks Lake

Surface Area: 243 acres
Depth: 7.8 ft.

Larks Lake is located in Emmet County, Michigan. The lake is fed by spring outlets and it empties into Brush Creek, which at its mouth is six feet wide and six inches deep. This drains into the west branch of the Maple River, leading to Burt Lake. Larks Lake is sparsely vegetated and the substrate is generally mucky and loose, composed of marl, sand, and organic material. Larks Lake is used for recreational activities, including fishing, boating, and swimming.

Click here to learn more about the aquatic plants in Larks Lake.
Larks Lake Aquatic Plant Survey 2009 - SUMMARY

Larks Lake is #1 on the map below.

Twin Lakes - Cheboygan Co.

Surface Area: 211 acres
Max depth: 73'

Located just north of Black Lake in northeast Cheboygan County, Twin Lakes stands apart from other lakes in the region in that it consists of a group of ten interconnected water bodies. The peaceful, mesmerizing waters of these well-preserved lakes are soothing yet vibrant, populated by a diverse array of aquatic plant and animal life.

Owens Spillway, the dam controlling the outflow from Twin Lakes, was stabilized by Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and the Twin Lakes Association in 2009. Purple Loosestrife is present on lake, but being controlled with beetles through collaborative efforts of the Lake Association and Watershed Council.

Twin Lakes is #3 on the map below.

Susan Lake

Surface Area: 130 acres
Max depth: 15'

Susan Lake is located in northern Charlevoix County, approximately 4 miles from downtown Charlevoix. It is a shallow and serene, narrow and tranquil, and full of life. Susan Creek flows out the northern end, traversing 2 miles through Little Traverse Conservancy and other protected lands before emptying into Lake Michigan.

Phragmites has been documented on Susan Lake, but is, fortunately, of the native variety.

Susan Lake is #4 on the map below.

Marion Lake

Surface Area: 119 acres
Max depth: 52'

Lake Marion is located in western Charlevoix County, in terrain consisting of scores of glacial drumlins, which are small hills that stretch from northwest to southeast, much like the lake does. The lake has no public access, but has been monitored by local residents for the past several years as part of our Volunteer Lake Monitoring program.

Marion Lake is #5 on the map below.

Nowland Lake


Surface Area: 126 acres
Max depth: 16'

Nowland Lake is small, quiet, and very scenic, a great place for a relaxing paddle. It is located in western Charlevoix County, to the southwest of Ironton. Although largely pristine, the lake has some agriculture just north of the public access site on the western shore and there is some residential development on the eastern shore.

Due to concerns about reduced water clarity, volunteers have recently started monitoring Nowland Lake as part of our Volunteer Lake Monitoring program.

Nowland Lake is #6 on the map below.
Huffman Lake

Huffman Lake


Surface Area: 124 acres
Max depth: 30'

Huffman Lake is located in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan in the southeast corner of Charlevoix County. The entire lake falls within Hudson Township in Charlevoix County. The surface area of Huffman Lake is approximately 124 acres and the shoreline distance totals ~1.9 miles. The deepest point is located in the center of the lake and is reported to be from 26-30' deep.

Huffman Lake is a glacially formed kettle lake that sits at the headwaters of the Sturgeon River. There are at least two small inlet streams; a stream flowing into the northwest corner that connects to Kidney Lake to the west and a stream of unknown origin that flows in at a developed property on the west end of the south side of the lake. The only outlet is located in the northeast cove, which starts the West Branch of the Sturgeon River.

The Huffman Lake watershed is a sub-watershed of the Sturgeon River watershed, which is, in turn, part of the larger Cheboygan River Watershed. Huffman Lake has a large watershed in relation to the lake's surface area, measuring approximately 5,700 acres (does not include lake area). The watershed area to lake surface area ratio is ~46:1, which, compared to other lakes in Michigan, is quite high (e.g., Walloon Lake has a ratio of ~5:1). This ratio provides a statistic for gauging susceptibility of lake water quality to changes in watershed land cover. Essentially, the statistic indicates that the Huffman Lake watershed is large enough, relative to lake area, to provide a protective buffer, such that small areas of development will probably not negatively impact water quality. However, the cumulative impact of rampant landscape development throughout the watershed could have serious adverse impacts on the lake's water quality.

According to land cover statistics from a 2000 land cover analysis, the majority of the watershed is forested. Of land cover types that typically contribute to water quality degradation, there is little urban/residential and a moderate amount of agriculture in the watershed.

Lake residents were concerned about heavy algae blooms occurring in the southeast corner of the lake and contracted with the Watershed Council to conduct a shoreline survey. The shoreline survey was carried out in 2006, documenting indicators of nutrient pollution in a few shoreline areas, degraded greenbelts scattered throughout the lake shoreline, and a great deal of shoreline alteration (e.g., riprap, seawalls, etc.). Little to no follow-up occurred following the survey. Volunteers have monitored Huffman Lake for years as part of our Volunteer Lake Monitoring program, albeit inconsistently.

Huffman Lake is #8 on the map below.

Thumb Lake (Lake Louise)

Surface Area: 510 acres
Depth: 152 feet

Thumb Lake is located in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan in the southeast corner of Charlevoix County. The entire lake falls within Hudson Township in Charlevoix County. The surface area of Thumb Lake is approximately 510 acres and the shoreline distance, including islands, totals roughly 7.5 miles. The deepest point is located in the west end of the lake and is reported to be 152 feet deep.

Thumb Lake is a glacially formed kettle lake that sits at the headwaters of the Sturgeon River. There are a few minor inlets and no outlet streams. Due to the lack of an outlet, Thumb Lake is considered a seepage lake. Seepage lakes lose water only through evaporation and groundwater channels, which means that lake water has a long residence time in relation to drainage lakes (lakes with outlets). If the water quality of Thumb Lake were to seriously deteriorate from pollution in the form of a persistent contaminant, natural recovery would be slow due to being a seepage lake.

The Thumb Lake watershed is a sub-watershed of the Sturgeon River watershed, which is, in turn, part of the larger Cheboygan River Watershed. Thumb Lake has a small watershed in relation to the lake's surface area, measuring approximately 3,840 acres (does not include lake area). The watershed area to lake surface area ratio is ~8:1, which, compared to other lakes in Michigan, is quite low (e.g., Huffman Lake has a ratio of ~46:1). This ratio provides a statistic for gauging susceptibility of lake water quality to changes in watershed land cover. Essentially, the ratio indicates that the small size of the Lake Louise watershed provides only limited buffer protection, such that small areas of development in the Lake Louise watershed have the potential to negatively impact water quality.

According to land cover statistics from a 2000 land cover analysis, the majority of the watershed is forested. Of land cover types that typically contribute to water quality degradation, there is little agriculture and even less urban/residential in the watershed.

Previously, there were some nutrient pollution problems as documented by a shoreline survey sponsored by the Lake Louise Christian Community and conducted by Watershed Council staff in 2000. Problems were addressed during follow-up activities and the 2007 shoreline survey showed few if any nutrient pollution problems.

During a Watershed Council fieldtrip in 2006, staff noticed a Eurasian Watermilfoil (EWM) plant bed near the boat launch. The Lake Louise Christian Community has worked with the Watershed Council and EnviroScience, Inc. to locate Eurasian watermilfoil beds throughout the lake and control them biologically by stocking aquatic weevils that are native to the area and known to effectively control the invasive watermilfoil.

Lake Louise Christian Community

Contact:                 Myke Sherman
Mailing Address:    11037 Thumb Lake Road
Physical Address:   11037 Thumb Lake Road
City/State/Zip:        Boyne Falls, MI 49713

Phone:                   (231) 549-2728
Fax:                       (231) 549-2728
E-mail:                   mrsherman@hughes.net

Website:                www.lakelouisecamp.com

Thumb Lake (Lake Louise) is #9 on the map below.
Silver Lake

Silver Lake


Surface Area: 75 acres
Depth: 85 feet

Silver Lake sits just to the west of Wolverine. It is a picturesque kettle lake (formed by a large ice chunk left behind by the glaciers) with no inlets or outlets. Silver Lake is quite small, but very deep, which lends to the beautiful blue hues reflected from the lake’s watery depths. Although much of the shoreline is developed, the lake continues to boast high water quality.

Silver Lake is #10 on the map below.

Wildwood Lake

Wildwood Lake


Surface Area: 227 Acres
Depth: 17 Feet

Wildwood Lake is an impounded lake, which was formed by damming a small tributary that flows into Lance Lake and then, the Sturgeon River. Water quality data show the lake to have relatively low levels of nutrients, but the lake is plagued with heavy aquatic plant growth, reportedly including invasive Eurasian Watermilfoil (not yet confirmed by Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council). The heavy plant growth is likely the result of the unnatural formation of the lake, very shallow average depths, and poor riparian property management. The Wildwood Valley Property Owners Association and Club is working to solve these problems. More information can be found on their web page at: http://wildwoodlake.info/index.html

Wildwood Lake is #11 on the map below.
Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva


Surface Area: 94 acres
Depth: 16 Feet

Lake Geneva is a small, peaceful lake that is located in the headwaters of the Upper Black River in the Canada Creek Ranch area in northern Montmorency County.

Lake Geneva is #12 on the map below.

Birch Lake


Surface Area: 325 acres
Depth: 52 Feet

Located just north of Elk Rapids on the east side of Highway US31. Day-use area at roadside park off US31 on west side of lake and public boat launch on the north end of the lake. Chloride levels increasing over time, but water quality remains high with low levels of nutrients and adequate dissolved oxygen stores.

Birch Lake is #13 on the map below.

 

Locations of the Small Gem Lakes


Volunteer Lake Monitoring results for the Small Gem Lakes



Bass and Silver Lake Chloride LevelsBass Lake, Thumb Lake, Twin Lake Chlorophyll Levels

Additional Resources



Gem Lakes Profile - 2010

Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
8 pages

The report contains specific data for the Small Gem Lakes from two of our cornerstone water quality programs - Comprehensive Water Quality Monitoring and Volunteer Lake Monitoring. These two programs have provided valuable data on the overall health of our waters. The report also contains information about Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council's work with shoreline property owners and lake associations regarding erosion control, greenbelts and nutrient pollution.

This report contains data for the following lakes: Larks Lake, Long Lake, Twin Lake, Susan Lake, Marion Lake, Nowland Lake, Deer Lake, Huffman Lake, Thumb Lake, Silver Lake, Wildwood Lake, Lake Geneva, Birch Lake, and Bass Lake.

 

 

 

 

 

Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council • 426 Bay Street, Petoskey, MI 49770
PH: (231) 347-1181 • Fax: (231) 347-5928 • www.watershedcouncil.org
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