Lake Huron, Great Lakes of Michigan & Ontario, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Ontario - Great Lakes - USA - Midwest - Michigan - East Central - Northeast - Upper Peninsula -

A glacial lake of epic proportions, Lake Huron is the second largest of the five Great Lakes by surface area, boasting 23,010 square miles and an incredible 3,825-mile shoreline. The massive lake is the third largest of the Great Lakes by water volume, containing 850 cubic miles of fresh water within its basin. Such enormous stretches of water, combined with the lake’s rocky rip-rapped shoreline and sandy beaches, have made Lake Huron a hotspot for vacationers, part-time residents, and full-time residents that delight in the sun and water fun that this Great Lake provides.

Before European discovery, Lake Huron was inhabited by Native Americans, namely the Algonquin and Iroquois, who had been rivals for centuries. In 1612, French explorers arrived to the lake’s shores, and having not yet found any of the other Great Lakes, named it La Mer Douce, or the Freshwater Sea. The Lake was often labeled as Lac des Hurons, Lake of the Huron Indians, on early maps. By 1615, the French had developed relationships with the lake’s Native American tribes, and had learned some of their customs and trades, building their wealth with timber, fishing, mining, and fur production. Of course, these industries and the pursuit of wealth eventually led to the French and Indian War, and seven years of fighting tore the region apart. Today, the lake has recovered from the abuses of the past and is ripe again with wildlife, fish, and many other natural treasures.

Lake Huron’s shores seem to stretch out forever, and can be intimidating at first. What to do, where to go, and how to schedule your time are questions to ask yourself when planning your visit. If you’re approaching the lake from its Michigan side, consider beginning your trip on Michigan’s Sunrise Coastal Highway, a 10-mile strip of road that runs along the lake’s shoreline, providing asphalt-paved trails for bikers, skaters, and walkers. The paths begin in Rogers City, and soon wind their way to the lake’s shore, just feet away from Lake Huron’s gentle, lapping waters and soft sandy beach. The street path finally drops you off at Hoeft State Park, a beautiful 300-acre wildlife preserve whose own trails hook up with the Huron Sunrise Trail, making an ideal transition for continued hiking and biking.

Alpena, Michigan on Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay is the “Shipwreck Capital of the Great Lakes”. More than 200 shipwrecks lie on the bottom of Thunder Bay, the result of the bay’s shallow waters and the merciless thunderstorms that gave Thunder Bay its name. Alpena is home to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the only freshwater national marine sanctuary designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Visitors can view many of the shipwrecks by water on the glass bottom charter boat, the Lady Michigan. On land, the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center is a Sanctuary visitor center with interactive exhibits such as a full-size wooden replica of a schooner shipwreck where visitors can walk the decks, experience the feel of a Great Lakes storm, and even touch the timbers of a shipwreck on the lake bottom without getting wet.

Lake Huron is home to many species of flora and fauna, and nature lovers will enjoy exploring the lake’s several parks and preserves. Mackinac Island State Park is a special treat: the island park is like a trip back into the 19th century, allowing no cars, but plenty of horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and walkers to traverse its trails. Visit a quaint little village, a historic fort, and bustling harbor before heading out to investigate nature’s own creations of unique rock formations, incredible blue waters, and plenty of birdwatching for the careful viewer.

If you ache for knowledge, head to the historic towns of Cedarville and Hessel, starting point for a foray onto the lake and a visit to the 36 nearby islands. The islands are accessible by boat only, and plenty of guided tours, as well as kayak and canoe rentals are available locally. The islands were named Les Cheneaux by the French, and were first populated by the Ojibwa Native Americans thousands of years ago. After French arrival and European settlement, they became small communities in the 1800s, home to Scandinavian, Irish, and Italian immigrants. Two museums — The Historical Museum and the Maritime Museum — are close to the Cedarville waterfront, and are full of Lake Huron history, European influences, and many other tidbits that are sure to whet a history buff’s appetite.

In addition to its historical adventures, Lake Huron is known also for excellent fishing, and is regarded as one of the best walleye fishing spots in the United States. If you’re serious about catching walleye for dinner, head out to Saginaw Bay (Michigan) in the summer, when walleye fishing is at its peak. However, fishing is good year-round, and anglers can rely on catches of salmon, bass, musky, and trout, in addition to the teeming populations of walleye that have helped make Lake Huron famous.

Things to do at Lake Huron

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Huron

  • Bass
  • Perch
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Lake Huron Photo Gallery

Lake Huron Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 14,726,400 acres

Shoreline Length: 3,825 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 577 feet

Average Depth: 195 feet

Maximum Depth: 750 feet

Water Volume: 2,872,320,000 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 51,700 sq. miles

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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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