Pontiac Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Southeast -

Long a recreational playground in southeast Michigan, Pontiac Lake never fails to enchant visitors. The lake was created in 1927 when the state built a dam across the Huron River to enlarge small Lime Lake. Pontiac Lake was planned from the beginning to provide water recreation to residents in the Pontiac area. Only seven miles from downtown Pontiac, the lake soon was providing swimming, fishing and boating enjoyment for the families of an increasing number of workers in the new auto industry. Cottages were soon built along the main shoreline and on the several islands and peninsulas gracing the lake. The state wisely retained a mile of frontage along the northern shoreline where public recreational facilities could be provided. Before long, Pontiac Lake had something to offer nearly everyone. The recreational opportunities only continue to improve as the years go by.

The lake offers both boating and fishing opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Two public boat launches at the Pontiac Lake Recreational Area beach allow for launching smaller power boats and personal watercraft, along with fishing boats. Large expanses of water are available for power boating, sailing, jet skiing, tubing, wakeboarding and rowing. Northern pike, perch, bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, sunfish, catfish, rock bass and walleye are all caught. As the lake averages only five feet in depth, fish habitat is excellent with plenty of weed cover. In winter, ice fishermen enjoy the coves and channels, while snowmobiles skate across the lake and onto the trails of the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area.

Pontiac Lake is close to everything. The Oakland County International Airport is nearby, as are all sorts of shopping and amusement venues. Many lakeshore cottages have evolved into full-fledged year-round homes within an established lake community. Homes on the islands are connected to the main shoreline via causeways, creating a system of coves and channels ideal for pontooning and paddling. Most homes have private docks and swimming areas for the enjoyment of children and adults alike. The long-established lakefront community works with the Pontiac Lake Property Owners Association to keep the lake clean, control weed growth, helps pay for regular marine control, and provides recreational events for the neighborhoods to socialize. A small marina along the southern shoreline near the dam provides limited rental slips, performs boat repairs and sells necessary boating accessories. Lucky vacationers sometimes find rental cottages to enjoy for a week or even the entire summer.

Even with all of this development, the State of Michigan has increased its holdings along the north shore and the wetlands at the west end of the lake until the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area now encompasses 3,745 acres of public land. The Recreation Area includes a spacious sandy beach with bath house, picnic area, rest rooms, fishing pier and two boat launch facilities. A separate modern campground includes 170 campsites with electrical connections, modern restrooms and another playground. A second campground is reserved for horse-camping; these rustic sites adjoin the 17 miles of horseback riding trails within the Recreation Area. A riding stable nearby allows day visitors to enjoy the trails from horseback.

A shooting range, archery range and separate radio-controlled aircraft field allow the public to engage in their favored hobbies. A mountain biking trail covers 11 miles of varied terrain. In winter the trails are used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Hunting in season is allowed in specified areas where hunters stalk rabbit, squirrel, grouse, woodcock, duck, geese, raccoon and deer. These animals are present year-round, along with a variety of birds and create excellent wildlife watching opportunities. Pontiac Lake Recreation Area participates in the State Park Explorer program, providing nature education to both children and adults. Some of these programs are hosted by the Friends of Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, a local service group.

One of the most popular and best-known events held at Pontiac Lake each year is the American Power Boat Association’s World Championship Race, called ‘Quake on the Lake’. This race brings boats and spectators from all over the world to observe the heart-stopping action as the high-performance racing boats speed the length of the lake in competition. The event includes far more than water-based action, however, as the weekend includes concerts by well-known artists, festival foods and fun for all attendees. The event has been held at Pontiac Lake annually since 2000 and seems to get more popular every year. For those who enjoy land-based racing, a BMX Racing track nearby offers racing events throughout the summer. In winter, a nearby ski hill provides downhill skiing, sledding and fun in the snow.

Those looking for alternate activities in the Pontiac Lake area will find they are only 15 miles from Pontiac Silverdome. Dearborn’s Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, Detroit’s convention facilities, the newly-refurbished Belle Isle Aquarium, and the Detroit Zoo are all less than an hour away. The Detroit Institute of Arts is considered one of the best collections in the United States and features everything from Monet to mummies. Nearby are the Detroit Historical Museum, the Detroit Science Center and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Of particular interest to automotive buffs, the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex is located at the former Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, birthplace of the Model T. The plant is well preserved and looks virtually the same as its original 1904 appearance. It has the unique distinction as being the only exhibition of a factory from Detroit’s early automotive production history that is open to visitors.

With all this going on nearby, vacationers will want to spend an extra week just exploring the wealth of historical information in the area. Lucky visitors often can find rental cottages or private homes along the lakeshore. Nearby, several small motels and larger chain hotels can also provide lodgings. For those who want to make their enjoyment of Pontiac Lake permanent, real estate is usually available either along the shore or very close by. So, whether you’re planning to visit southeastern Michigan in the near future, or already live in the state and are looking at a ‘stay-cation’ this year, come to Pontiac Lake.

Things to do at Pontiac Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Pontiac Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Pontiac Lake Photo Gallery

Pontiac Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Oakland County Drain Commissioner

Surface Area: 585 acres

Shoreline Length: 11 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 963 feet

Average Depth: 5 feet

Maximum Depth: 34 feet

Completion Year: 1927

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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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