Clark Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Southeast -

Also known as:  Clarklake

One of Southeast Michigan’s long-term favorite places to be in summer is Clark Lake. This natural lake, enhanced in size by a small dam, has been a popular destination for thousands of visitors and summer residents throughout the 20th century. For many years the beaches at Clark Lake were the playground of the ‘well-to-do’ and the ‘up-and-coming’. Nestled in the famed Irish Hills, Clark Lake is graced by the former summer homes of Hollywood supporting actresses and play-oriented executives and their young families. Only 75 miles from booming Detroit and 200 miles from Chicago, Clark Lake was the perfect getaway for a newly mobile nation. Clark Lake is far more egalitarian these days, but executives still seek homes here and groups of young adults still pool their resources to rent a cottage for a week or two in summer.

Officially a 580-acre lake, the actual size is likely a few acres off one way or another. That doesn’t much matter to the many boaters who spend their summers on the water. The local yacht club holds recreational regattas here regularly and teaches sailing to the youngsters. Water skiing, tubing and personal watercraft are favorites. A marina rents berths to those who bring their boats for the summer, and pontoons still cruise the perimeter of the lake. The Raft-O-Rama continues as a 50+ year summer tradition with humorously-decorated pontoons vying for prizes for originality. Residents and visitors alike enjoy swimming and beach-based volleyball at the small county park, the township park, and their own small swim areas adjacent to their private docks. A beach and boat club is open to membership and offers playground space, snack bar and swim areas. Teens still sunbathe on the grassy margins near the lake, and their young male counterparts still perform water-based antics guaranteed to attract their attention. Children can still get an ice cream cone in the tiny business district across the street from the lakefront or ride their bikes on the quiet streets among the cottages.

Clark Lake is also known for excellent fishing. Two public boat ramps, one at each end of the lake, provide water access for visiting anglers. Although not particularly deep, the lake offers up walleye, good-sized perch, bluegill and crappie. Because the lake is often busy with boaters in summer, fishermen usually plan to visit during the early mornings or off-season. Ice fishing is a major draw, with fishing derbies held regularly. The annual Midwest Open Ice Fishing Tournament is so popular that participant tickets are often sold out by the previous August: winning two-person teams can collect upwards of $12,000 for the winning catch in bluegill and crappie. Sunny weekends in February often see nearly as many people on the ice as will be seen on the water on a hot July day. Bait shops locally sell needed supplies while a major sporting goods store in the Town of Brooklyn is only four miles away.

A new lakeside restaurant is replacing the old landmark Eagles Nest that held court for well over 50 years and is improving their docking facilities to handle more arrivals by water. Many smaller cottages have been replaced with upscale year-round homes. New condos are now renting near the marina and offer the best in amenities for those not wishing to be burdened with home maintenance chores. A popular bar at the east end of the lake offers live entertainment and is the chosen gathering spot of the younger crowd. Older adults and families also find activities to their liking at the popular bar, especially the annual ‘crab races’ with hermit crabs – a hilarious activity in which participants ‘rent’ a crab for the race and a chance to win great prizes, with proceeds going to local charities. Off-water activities include the five-mile Clark Lake Spirit Trail which circles the lake and an annual Run Clark Lake event that features both 5k and 12k events for all ages.

Clark Lake’s location in the Irish Hills gives access to a full schedule of activities in the surrounding area. The Michigan International Speedway is located less than ten miles away and offers two NASCAR race weekends each season. Other activities at the track such as car shows, specialty driving schools, the Great Lakes Wine Fest, Formula SAE Design competition and sporting events make the track the focus of a full summer of active fun. Racing fans love the opportunity to take a couple of laps around the two-mile oval with a professional race driver. The scenic stretch of US 12 through Irish Hills is a favorite of motorcycle touring clubs and antique auto fans; cruising events are held throughout the summer. Walker Tavern Historic Complex along the old stagecoach road between Detroit and Chicago holds regular summer events including Civil War re-enactments, vintage baseball exhibitions, and old-time craft demonstrations. And just down the road, Hidden Lake Gardens features many acres of native and specialty plantings, greenhouses and arboretum under the care of Michigan State University. Nearby the Dahlem Conservancy provides over five miles of hiking trails, exhibits and educational programs on their 300 acres of woods, marshes, meadows and ponds. The area abounds with antique shops and small-town ambiance along US 12.

Many opportunities for lodgings exist at Clark Lake. Several private owners regularly rent cottages and cabins at the lake, many with a boat or pontoon included. Condos are available for short-term rentals, and local bed-and-breakfasts can be found nearby. Although there are no campgrounds directly on Clark Lake, there are several in the area, with a huge complex of camping facilities near Michigan International Speedway. Some are open for the entire season, but reservations are strongly recommended well in advance of Race Weekend. The Town of Brooklyn offers a chain hotel and maintains lists of available rentals at the many lakes in the Irish Hills. Brooklyn also provides all necessary services including wellness clinics, restaurants, shopping and a full range of festivals and fun events encompassing the entire summer season. Real estate is available both at Clark Lake and the many other small lakes in the area. A more pleasant summer vacation spot would be hard to find: Clark Lake has just about anything. When can we expect you?

Things to do at Clark Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Birding
  • Playground
  • Antiquing
  • NASCAR
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Clark Lake

  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Perch
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Clark Lake Photo Gallery

Clark Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Jackson County Drain Commissioner

Surface Area: 580 acres

Shoreline Length: 6 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 969 feet

Average Depth: 15 feet

Maximum Depth: 51 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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