Lake Saint Helen, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Northeast -

Also known as:  Lake St. Helen

Lake Saint Helen is located in Roscommon County of northern Michigan near Interstate 75 and right next to the town of St. Helen – Charlton Heston’s childhood town. The spring-fed lake looks like three lakes joined together and has a surface area of about 2,400 acres. It is one of the main inflow sources for the South Branch of the Au Sable River which eventually flows into the great Lake Huron to the east. Only 3 miles of the 18-mile shoreline are developed (on the southeast side). The area boasts many cozy waterfront estates.

Fish living in Lake Saint Helen are bass, brown trout, crappie, perch, lake trout, pike, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, walleye and bluegill. The lake is particularly attractive for its bluegill fishery. There is an annual Bluegill Festival that has ocurred every summer in St. Helen for 59 years. It typically includes a parade, a carnival, vendors, tournaments, live bands, raffles, fishing contests, a children’s parade, games, and an auto show. The Bluegill Festival attracts crowds of people every year.

Water levels on Lake Saint Helen are controlled by a gravity-type dam situated at the mouth of the South Branch of the Au Sable River. The dam was completed in 1930, and is controlled by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The dam is used for recreation purposes. The water is relatively shallow and there needs to be enough water for boats to float. The average depth of the lake is no more than 7.5 feet, and the maximum depth is 26 feet.

Lake Saint Helen once had a problem with Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM) that was growing in mats on the surface of the lake. The pretty, feathery-like aquarium plant grows rapidly and can stagnate a lake and disrupt recreational activities. A program administered by Enviroscience, Inc. from 1998 to 2001 quickly decimated the EWM beds in the lake by stocking the lake with a population of weevils. As a result, native plants, such as Coontail, Waterlilies and various species of Pondweed, began reappearing and are now thriving on the lake.

The Saint Helen Campground in Township Park provides 30 sites with water and electricity and 30 additional rustic sites. The park’s recreational offerings include two ball fields, tennis and basketball courts, playground, playscape, and a covered pavilion.

Lake Saint Helen attracts water sports enthusiasts such as jet skiiers but is reportedly quiet. Boating and swimming are enjoyed. Hunting in the near wooded regions is a popular sport. Winter time brings out the scarves, mittens, and snowmobiles.

Roscommon County offers all kinds of other attractions. Visit the Houghton Forest State Park with a semi-modern, 50-site campground for tents and small trailers. Visit various historical sites, including the Au Sable River Museum, the Fireman’s Memorial with a festival every September, an historical village with restored 1800’s buildings, and a farm park typical of a Midwest farmstead during the 1930s. Culture yourself at a photography exhibit, art show, or performing arts theater. Experience fine dining and lodging at various hotels and resorts. Or go for the always cozy, rustic cottage setting.

Things to do at Lake Saint Helen

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Jet Skiing
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Saint Helen

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Trout
  • Crappie
  • Lake Trout
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Lake Saint Helen Photo Gallery

    Lake Saint Helen Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

    Surface Area: 2,400 acres

    Shoreline Length: 18 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,155 feet

    Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

    Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,155 feet

    Average Depth: 7 feet

    Maximum Depth: 26 feet

    Water Volume: 3,360 acre-feet

    Drainage Area: 72 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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