Big Glen Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Northwest -

Looking down on the surprisingly blue water and sandy shores of Big Glen Lake, she can see why it is called Inspiration Point. The view across the lake and dunes is certainly inspiring, and with her whole vacation stretching in front of her – like the expanse of Lake Michigan’s waters at her back – she’ll have time to explore it all. Big Glen Lake, Little Glen Lake and the dunes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore promise a spectacular northwest Michigan getaway. Add the history of the Great Lakes, and maybe she is wrong; maybe there could never be enough time to enjoy everything the Glen Lakes have to offer.

Gouged out by glacial erosion during the last ice age, Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake were originally connected to Lake Michigan. Over time, sand filled in the space between the lakes creating a sandbar separating Lake Michigan from the Glen Lakes. Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake are hydrologically the same. Obviously larger, Big Glen Lake to the east covers 4,871 surface acres and has a maximum depth of 130 feet. It is a rounded lake with a sandy shoreline and is surrounded with wooded areas and rolling dunes.

There is more than enough water to boat, swim and water-ski, and Big Glen Lake is also popular with anglers. The lake is oligotrophic with crystal clear, blue water, but it still supports healthy populations of fish. The yellow perch, smallmouth bass, and northern pike are prevalent, and there are abundant populations of both brown trout and lake trout. Access to the lake is from one of several private marinas or from the public boat ramp on Little Glen Lake. The Glen Lakes are connected by a narrow channel that runs under the bridge that crosses the lakes.

Big Glen Lake is slightly east of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Established in 1970 to preserve the dunes that rise 110 feet above Lake Michigan, the park includes 31 miles of the shore of Lake Michigan as well as both north and south Manitou Islands. In addition to climbing the dunes, the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive offers spectacular views of the dunes, Lake Michigan and Manitou Islands and has an overlook looking down on the Glen Lakes. The seven and a half mile long driving loop is open to traffic from April through November.

Also part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, the sandbar that separates Lake Michigan from Big Glen Lake currently holds a campground and Glen Haven a historic village. Glen Haven was a steamboat stop operating from 1865 through 1931. Originally called Sleeping Bearville, it was a natural harbor for the steamships that traveled from Chicago to Buffalo. Today visitors can tour the restored general store, listen to the blacksmith hammer at his forge in the blacksmith shop, and tour the museum in the former cherry and apple cannery.

Big Glen Lake is near the town of Glen Arbor. The town has restaurants, shops and a variety of accommodations as well as real estate available for sale. There are also vacation rentals ranging from cabins to large single family homes on the shores of Big Glen Lake any of which would be the perfect base from which to explore the nearby hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. In the winter, there are cross country ski and snowmobile trails nearby as well as hunting.

The amazingly clear blue water and white sand shores have earned Big Glen Lake the self proclaimed title of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. It is the rich history, spectacular sand dunes and abundant fishing, however, which will have visitors returning again and again to this northwest Michigan gem.

Things to do at Big Glen Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Museum

Fish species found at Big Glen Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Yellow Perch

Big Glen Lake Photo Gallery

Big Glen Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 4,871 acres

Maximum Depth: 130 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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