Pentwater Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - West Central -

Also known as:  Pent Water Lake

Oceana County, Michigan, is home to Pentwater Lake, a 483-acre natural freshwater lake with a very irregular shape. Pentwater Lake’s shoreline is 8.6 miles long, most of which is significantly developed with homes, vacation rentals, businesses, and public lands; development at present is more than 200 establishments along the shore.

Pentwater Lake is about two miles long and 3/4 mile wide, with its inlet at the southeastern end. The Pentwater River flows in from the east as its primary source of water. The lake then drains directly into Lake Michigan from its northwestern edge. With an average elevation of 579 feet above sea level, Pentwater Lake’s water level changes frequently and in direct correlation to the level in Lake Michigan. The lowest recorded level was around 576 feet in the 1960s; the highest level was taken in the 1980s, at about 582 feet. Of late, the lake is trending toward lower levels.

As noted, Pentwater Lake drains directly into Lake Michigan through a natural channel on its northwestern end. In the 1850s the Pentwater Channel was dredged and developed into a passage that would allow navigation between the two lakes by larger boats. Historically, this channel has also been a way to a safe harbor in storms. As bluffs and steep banks surround Pentwater Lake, it provides protection for some watercraft in times of severe weather. Over the years, this channel has been reconstructed and redeveloped as necessary to maintain and improve the passageway. Dredging the channel is often necessary to reestablish a safe lane for watercraft.

At the other end of the lake, Pentwater Lake features a natural delta that has formed over time due to the Pentwater River’s influx of water and sandy deposits. This very shallow delta is called Pentwater Marsh, and it starts along the eastern shoreline and encompasses the eastern end of the lake up to Long Bridge Road, which is the man-made road that runs north to south over Pentwater Lake.

The West Central tourism region of Michigan is a lovely area that contains endless attractions for the whole family. For many travelers, Pentwater Lake is the perfect option because it’s located away from larger cities and feels peaceful and scenic, while a short drive away are major attractions and the hum of urban life. This means that vacationers can be assured that their stays in these smaller towns are restful and relaxing, but they can access as much high-octane fun as they want with a quick car ride in any direction. Pentwater Lake is located just north of the city of Hart and the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, which are popular tourist destinations. For those looking to travel a bit, Hart-Montague State Park is found to the south of Pentwater, and Silver Lake State Park is to the southwest. The Manistee National Forest is located to the east of Pentwater Lake, and the heart of the Pentwater village and town is to the northwest of Pentwater Lake. Ludington is a quick drive to the north, and Muskegon is to the south. Bass Lake is to the north, and Hart Lake is to the southeast.

The Pentwater River Watershed is a largely agricultural system, but the crops grown there are not traditional. Fruit orchards are abundant, as are Christmas tree farms and asparagus. With increased nutrients entering the lake in recent years, occasional algae blooms have occurred. Despite this, water quality in the lake is considered very good. With an average depth of 22 feet and a maximum depth of 50 feet, Pentwater Lake is a popular fishing lake, with sunfish, bass, pike, perch, and an infrequent salmon that makes its way in from Lake Michigan being popular catches. Brown trout and steelhead are sometimes stocked, and the area prides itself on its good fishing. Pier fishing is popular, and charter fishing is available too. Canoe, kayak, and raft rentals are available in town, and camping and boating are two well-loved activities for area residents. Water skiing, jet skiing, and all other conceivable water activities are enjoyed around Pentwater Lake. The Pentwater Marina contains more than 40 slips and has excellent amenities for those docked there.

Pentwater Lake is located in the village of Pentwater within Pentwater Township, The village’s population is just under 1,000 permanent residents, and tourism is a large draw. For a small town, Pentwater has a great deal of recreational options and open-air events on tap at most times of the year. For example, there are festivals for every season: Winterfest, a spring festival, a fall festival, an Octoberfest, and their very popular Homecoming Celebration, held every August. There is a large farmers market on the village green throughout the growing seasons, and the town features restaurants, cafes, coffeehouses, pubs, and fine and casual dining. Pentwater is also known for its love of music. The village green is host to many live music events, with something going on every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The civic band plays rousing sets of tunes there regularly, and live theater and other outdoor concerts take place in this scenic location in the heart of the village. Open-air art fairs, chamber of commerce events, weddings, and other fair-weather attractions occur frequently.

Charles Mears State Park, located in Pentwater, has 50 acres of land that are used for camping, hiking, biking, and spending time on the beach. Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, it has a family-friendly atmosphere with its sandy beaches and 180 available campsites. Several local parks surround Pentwater Lake as well. Bridge Street Park is a serene area that offers some parking and allows visitors to rest on park benches that are placed in areas with excellent views of the lake. Chester Street Park offers parking on site, and sightseers can walk to the pier head from this park, with benches along the way for resting and reflection. Channel Lane Park lies along the north side of the channel that accesses Lake Michigan. It’s a great place for picnics and offers pavilions for larger parties.

For children who like more variety in their vacations, Pentwater has an 18-hole mini golf course, a go-kart facility, billiards, and a video arcade. An operational dairy farm also invites families to see the activities of farm life and experience the animals up close. For the adults, several golf courses are found in the area, as are tennis courts, a basketball court, museums, art galleries, and a delightful array of shopping options, including artisan shops and antiques. No vacation around Pentwater Lake would be complete without a boat tour of the lake, which is a popular activity with several companies offering tours on lovely historic boats.

Waterfront property for vacation rentals is not hard to come by, but deciding which cottage, cabin, or modern home to rent might be the most difficult part. From tiny efficiencies to glorious lakeside homes with walls of windows and views of the lake, vacationers will enjoy choosing the vacation home that best suits them. Weekenders and seasonal renters alike will find a great variety of options are available all seasons of the year.

Things to do at Pentwater Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • State Park
  • National Forest
  • Museum
  • Miniature Golf
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Pentwater Lake

  • Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Salmon
  • Steelhead Trout
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Pentwater Lake Photo Gallery

Pentwater Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 483 acres

Shoreline Length: 9 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 579 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 576 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 582 feet

Average Depth: 22 feet

Maximum Depth: 50 feet

Water Volume: 10,600 acre-feet

Lake Area-Population: 958

Drainage Area: 166 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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