Gull Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Southwest -

Gull Lake is a picturesque 2,030-acre natural lake in southwestern Michigan. The lake most likely got its name from the large number of seagulls that occasionally fly inland from Lake Michigan. Gull Lake is conveniently located just 11 miles from Kalamazoo, home of Western Michigan University, and 13 miles from Battle Creek, home of the Kellogg Company. Dimensions of Gull Lake measure about five miles long and one mile wide. Most of the lake is in Kalamazoo County, with the northern end extending into Barry County. Homes and cottages line the 18.5-mile shoreline; the majority of families are year-round residents.

Gull Lake was formed by glacial activity about 14,000 years ago, when large ice chunks broke off from a retreating glacier. The lake was about half of its current size until 1833, when a pioneer built a dam for his sawmill on the south end of Gull Creek. The dam raised the water level by 14 feet and almost doubled the size of the lake. The large island at the southwest end of the lake used to be a peninsula connected to the mainland before construction of the dam. Two other islands, known locally as the “Hogs Backs,” are about 20 feet under water in the middle of the lake. Prairieville Creek at the north end of the lake is the largest inlet to Gull Lake, with smaller inlets along the western and eastern shores. Other sources of lake water include precipitation and numerous springs along the shore.

Gull Lake’s updated dam was built in the 1880’s. Today, the Gull Lake Association owns, operates, and maintains the dam. The Association maintains lake levels about eight feet above its original pre-dam elevation. The Association draws down the water about eight to ten inches each fall to prevent ice damage to the shoreline, then raises the level to normal elevation after the ice melts. Seasonal alteration of lake levels has been in practice since the 1930’s.

Gull Lake grew into a popular summer getaway for wealthy families during the late 1800’s. Year-round residences began dotting the shoreline. An electric-powered interurban rail line connected the lake to Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. Steamboats carried passengers from Allendale Beach to their resorts and cottages. Dancers swayed to the latest dance steps for more than 40 years at the Allendale pavilion hall that extended over the waters of Gull Lake.

Today, residents and visitors alike enjoy the exceptional water quality of Gull Lake for fishing, boating, water skiing, canoeing, swimming, sailing, and scuba diving. The lake offers up plenty of activities even with the onset of frigid temperatures. Winter ushers in ice skating, ice boating, ice fishing, and ice golf. Although most of the shoreline is private, there are two public access points on Gull Lake. The Prairieville Township Park on the north shore provides a four-lane boat launch ramp that accommodates 70 boat trailers. Another, much smaller access is on the northeast shore at the end of Baseline Road. The Kellogg Biological Station and Bird Sanctuary, owned by Michigan State University, are located on the eastern shore. Two marinas and a golf course are also located on the Gull Lake shoreline.

Gull Lake is noted for its warm water and cold water fishery, managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). For the past century, common game fish included largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, rock bass, and bluegill, with northern pike and walleye less common. DNR has stocked Gull Lake intermittently with rainbow trout, lake trout, brown trout, splake trout, smelt, and landlocked Atlantic salmon. Prairieville Creek has proved to be a successful spawning site for rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon, smelt, suckers, and brown trout. Anglers’ reports of catches vary over the years, depending on the success of DNR’s stocking programs. The largemouth population supports bass tournaments from May through October. Ice anglers report catches of northern pike in excess of 20 pounds.

Gull Lake’s 2,030 acres is large enough to support the Gull Lack Yacht Club since 1926. The Club offers sailing instruction and hosts multiple regattas during summer months. If underwater adventure is more to your liking, Gull Lake is a popular scuba diving destination due the clarity of its water. Artifacts have been placed in the lake for divers to explore and practice their skills.

The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary is a 180-acre wildlife conservation center located on the eastern shoreline of Gull Lake. Sanctuary visitors view waterfowl species in their natural habitat, such as trumpeter swans and Canada geese; birds of prey, including bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and eastern screech owls; native Michigan game birds such as grouse, pheasants, and quail; and rare, threatened, or endangered species from around the world. The sanctuary also offers ornithology courses which combine lectures with field trips. Visitors can also tour the Manor House, the summer estate of the Kellogg family from 1926 to 1942. The Kellogg family vacated the premises in 1942 to support World War II efforts, including a rehabilitation center for wounded servicemen. The estate was given to Michigan State University in 1951 and became part of the Kellogg Biological Station. Today, visitors enjoy the restored Manor House and gardens while learning about the philosophy of philanthropy and education of its founder, W.K.Kellogg.
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Things to do at Gull Lake MI

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Water Skiing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Golf
  • Ice Skating
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Gull Lake MI

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Smelt
  • Splake Trout
  • Sucker
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Gull Lake MI Photo Gallery

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Gull Lake MI Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Gull Lake Association

Surface Area: 2,030 acres

Shoreline Length: 19 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 880 feet

Average Depth: 41 feet

Maximum Depth: 110 feet

Water Residence Time: 4.3 years

Drainage Area: 27 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligo-mesotrophic

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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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