Orchard Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Southeast -

Orchard Lake is a 788-acre natural lake in southeastern Michigan, just three miles from the city of Pontiac and 25 miles from Detroit. This residential and recreational lake is rich in history and beauty. Orchard Lake is a “kettle lake,” formed by melting blocks of ice left behind in a deep depression in the earth when glaciers recede. Orchard Lake is unusual for a lake of its modest size, with three islands in its center. The largest is 33-acre Apple Island. Native Americans are credited with planting apple trees on the island, and early settlers named the lake after the apple orchard found there. The Ottawa chief, Pontiac, is rumored to have established a home site on Apple Island.

Although Orchard Lake is a natural lake, a water level control structure was installed in 1968 at the outlet which flows into nearby Cass Lake at times of high water. Lake levels are monitored and maintained by Oakland County for flood control, enhanced recreational use, and property value protection. Lake levels are lowered from winter to spring to prevent ice damage and flooding. Orchard Lake’s summer elevation is set at 930.5 feet, and the winter elevation is set at 930.2 feet. The elevation change from Orchard Lake to Cass Lake is just one foot. When water elevations fall below these legal levels, water can be pumped from Cass Lake into Orchard Lake. Both lakes are part of the Clinton River Watershed. From Cass Lake the drainage passes through Otter and Sylvan Lakes to the Clinton River which is dammed by the Price Dam a short distance below Sylvan Lake.

Orchard Lake and the Village of Orchard Lake are part of West Bloomfield Township, noted as the “lake township of Oakland County,” because it is dotted with small and medium sized lakes. In fact, more than 40% of this area of Oakland County is comprised of lakes and ponds. Water from two small inlets flow into Orchard Lake on the west side; this source originates in the Rouge River Watershed. A small inlet from adjacent Pine Lake to the east also flows into Orchard Lake during periods of high water. Orchard Lake has two deep basins, a 111-foot basin to the south of Apple Island, and an 80-foot basin to the east of the island. The two basins are separated by a shallow shelf that extends both northwest and southeast from Apple Island. These extensive shoals lie just five to ten feet under water. Native Americans reportedly fled from their enemies by escaping across the shoals known to them but not to their enemies.

The Village of Orchard Lake lies on the southwest shore of the lake with a population of about 2,200 residents. Careful zoning of homes and shopping plazas has retained the garden-like atmosphere of the community. The density of lakefront homes is low, with clusters of homes on the northwest, west, and southeast shores. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides a public access boat ramp on the southwest shore off Orchard Lake, with parking for about 60 vehicles.

Fishing is a favorite Orchard Lake activity. The earliest fish survey was conducted in 1890. Fish species present in the lake more than 100 years ago were ciscoes, bluegill, rock bass, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed, bullheads, and grass pike. During the 1930’s and 40’s, Orchard Lake was stocked with bluegill, walleye, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass. A trout stocking program, including rainbow and brown trout, ran from 1942 to 1983, at which time the program was discontinued. Today, largemouth bass and panfish (bluegill, pumpkinseed, and black crappie) continue to do well in Orchard Lake. Anglers also reel in catches of Northern pike and smallmouth bass. Michigan’s Department of Community Health publishes a fish consumption guide for inland lakes, which includes predator fish such as bass, walleye, northern pike, and muskie.

There is plenty of opportunity for off-water recreation around Orchard Lake. The West Bloomfield Trail is a 4.25-mile rails-to-trails project that winds around the eastern shore of Orchard Lake. The trail is popular with hikers, joggers, cross-country skiers, and bicyclists. The trail meanders through wetlands, woodlands, fields of wildflowers, commercial districts, and residential communities. The Orchard Lake Nature Sanctuary is a 50-acre preserve of pristine land with views of both Orchard Lake and Upper Straits Lake. A naturalist conducts regularly scheduled tours. The Sanctuary is well-known for its blanket of blooming Snow Glories flowers in mid-April.

The Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society is a must-see for history buffs. Founded as the Orchard Lake Scenic and Historical Society in 1974, the name was changed in 1978 to reflect the involvement of the township’s neighboring communities. The museum building is now housed in the former Orchard Lake City Hall. Visitors learn about the area’s history, including the Ottawa Indians, the Orchard Lake Hotel, the Michigan Military Academy at Orchard Lake, and citizens who had a lasting influence on the area. The military academy, located on the eastern shore of Orchard Lake, closed in 1908. In 1909, the 125-acre campus became the home of St. Mary’s Preparatory. Offering beautiful views of Orchard Lake, the campus includes an all-male college preparatory high school, a seminary, and an extension campus of Madonna University in Detroit.

Things to do at Orchard Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Orchard Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Trout
  • Cisco
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Orchard Lake Photo Gallery

    Orchard Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Oakland County

    Surface Area: 788 acres

    Shoreline Length: 6 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 930 feet

    Average Depth: 23 feet

    Maximum Depth: 110 feet

    Water Volume: 17,402 acre-feet

    Water Residence Time: 8.6 years

    Lake Area-Population: 2,215

    Drainage Area: 4 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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