Pentwater Lake, Michigan, USA
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
- Jet Skiing
- Water Skiing
- Cabin Rentals
- State Park
- National Forest
- Miniature Golf
Fish species found at Pentwater Lake
- Brown Trout
- Steelhead Trout
Pentwater Lake Photo Gallery
Pentwater Lake Statistics & Helpful Links
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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