Black Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Northeast -

Black Lake is a popular sporting lake located in Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Surrounded by acres of water and scenic woodlands, Black Lake has become a popular vacation destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Open to year around recreation, visitors come to northeastern Michigan to test their fishing and hunting skills; boat, ski and swim the sparkling water; or cross-country ski and snowmobile snow-covered hiking trails.

People of the Chippewa Nation and early French fur traders were among the first to move and trade along the shores of Lake Huron and Michigan’s northeastern forests. It wasn’t until the mid- to late-1800s that quarrying limestone and logging drew settlers to the Black Lake area. Now, surrounded by Mackinaw State Forest’s second growth forest and scenic lakes, tourism and outdoor recreation make up much of the area’s economic base.

Black Lake gets its name from the water’s dark color, a result of natural tannins found in native plants. Don’t let the color mislead you, Black Lake is known for its excellent water quality and sturgeon fishery thriving in its 50-foot depths. Covering 10,130 acres, Black Lake is ranked by the state’s Department of Natural Resources as the eighth largest lake in Michigan. From the northwestern to southeastern end, Black Lake extends six miles in length with a width just under four miles. Upper Black River flows into the west side of Black Lake providing the majority of inflow from the Black River watershed. The north end of Black Lake is a shallow basin with areas dominated by weed beds. The deeper basin lies at the southern end where additional tributaries, including Rainy River, Canada Creek and East Branch River, add to the 23-foot average depth of Black Lake. Near the northwest shore, Black Lake eventually drains into Lake Huron via the Lower Black River.

Black Lake has long been known for its quality lake sturgeon and walleye fisheries. In 1920, when the number of lake sturgeon was dropping, the Black Lake Association was formed to help document the lake’s environment and preserve the excellent water quality. Today the association continues to monitor Black Lake through additional vegetation and shoreline studies. Beyond the shores of Black Lake, Sturgeon for Tomorrow volunteers “stand guard” over spawning sites to stop illegal harvesting. Through volunteer efforts these organizations help ensure that Black Lake’s sturgeon have a promising future.

Both a fishing license and sturgeon fishing tags are required to fish Black Lake’s unique sturgeon season. The sturgeon spear fishing season usually opens the first Saturday in February and ends after a total of five days or after five sturgeon are caught, whichever comes first. A lottery is used to select each day’s 25 anglers with the season ending in hours or days depending on their success. Updates on Michigan’s sturgeon fishing regulations can be found at the link provided below. In addition to sturgeon, the lake boasts a considerable number of walleye, muskellunge, northern pike, yellow perch, sunfish, pumpkinseed, cisco, brook trout, red horse sucker, rock bass, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.

Fishing and sporting activities abound within Onaway State Park located on Black Lake’s southeastern shore. Found within the park’s 158 acres are sand cobblestone beaches ideal for sunbathing and swimming; modern campsites with bathrooms, showers and electric hook-ups; using the boat launch or canoe, kayak and rowboat rentals, boaters can explore the 19-mile shoreline; picnic shelters are found near playgrounds and three-mile nature trail that opens to cross-country skiing during winter months.

Black Mountain Forest Recreation Area sits at the northern end of Black Lake offering more adventures for the outdoor enthusiast. Rustic campsites are tucked under the white pines or spread along the lakeshore. Large numbers of deer, wild turkey and some black bear make hunting and wildlife viewing popular pastimes. Horseback riding is permitted on marked trails and roadways that lead through the forest. During winter months paths are open to cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. An additional 60 miles of trail are open to off-road vehicles (ORVs) with separate areas designated for dirt bikes, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

Drive five miles south of Black Lake and you arrive in the community of Onaway. Called the “Sturgeon Capital of Michigan,” the community of Onaway hosts the annual Black Lake Shivaree. The February festival is filled with winter activities for all ages including snowmobile races, motorcycle ice races, dog sled races and of course, fishing contests. The community’s close proximity to ice fishing and open-water fishing on Black Lake; camping in state forests and parks; and miles of snowmobile, skiing and hiking trails make Onaway a year-round recreation destination.

Visitors to Onaway and Black Lake will find endless opportunities to explore Michigan’s natural wonders. A scenic 10-mile drive east of Black Lake takes you to Ocqueoc Falls, the largest waterfall in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Drive 15 miles south and you will arrive at an area of geologic interest – Shoepac Lake, a deep water-filled sinkhole and an area of dry sinkholes now filling with trees and native plant life.

Less than 10 miles to the west of Black Lake you will find the shores of Mullett Lake. Known for its own quality fishing and boating, Mullett Lake is part of the 40-mile long Inland Waterway that flows through the Cheboygan River into Mullett Lake, Indian River, Burt Lake, on through Crooked River before entering Crooked Lake and ending at Pickerel Lake. At the beginning of the Inland Waterway you will find the community of Cheboygan on the shores of Lake Huron. Only minutes northwest of Black Lake, Cheboygan offers full-service marinas, a wonderful selection of cozy restaurants, and beautifully maintained city center with appealing shops open for fun-filled excursions.

Black Lake is conveniently located 20 miles east of Interstate 75, 40 miles southeast of the Straits of Mackinac and 270 miles north of Detroit. The natural beauty and gentle lakefront terrain offer an ideal escape for city dwellers and area residents alike. Beyond the state forest and park found on Black Lake you will find an excellent selection of vacation rentals and real estate properties nestled among the pines. Let the peace, quiet and charm of this destination sweep you off your feet. Whether you come for summer fishing and hiking or winter skiing and snowmobiling Black Lake is waiting for you.

Things to do at Black Lake MI

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dog Sledding
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • State Forest
  • Playground

Fish species found at Black Lake MI

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brook Trout
  • Cisco
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sturgeon
  • Sucker
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Black Lake MI Photo Gallery

Black Lake MI Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 10,130 acres

Shoreline Length: 19 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 614 feet

Average Depth: 23 feet

Maximum Depth: 50 feet

Drainage Area: 547 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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