Upper Herring Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Northwest -

Upper Herring Lake is a modestly sized naturally occurring freshwater lake in the Traverse City Lakes area of Michigan, located in the northwestern part of the Lower Peninsula. Its sister lake, Lower Herring Lake, lies directly to the west of Upper Herring Lake. With a normal elevation of 591 feet, Upper Herring Lake is roughly 13 feet higher in elevation than Lake Michigan. With more than 11,000 lakes in Michigan, these two lakes together might be considered fairly insignificant in size and uniqueness. However, they are well loved by area residents and are an important source of drinking water as well as a good fishing area and a favorite for recreational activities.

The lakes are officially managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which considers Upper Herring Lake and Lower Herring Lake together to be a two-storey cold-water and warm-water fishery. In Upper Herring Lake, fishing for brown trout and lake trout is a favorite for those who cast their rods. Other species in this lake include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, walleye, rock bass, northern pike, and crappie. This lake and others in the area are known for their excellent quality fishing.

The history of Upper Herring Lake should be considered in tandem with that of Lower Herring Lake. Both lakes together make up 1,022 acres of surface area, with Upper Herring Lake contributing 542 acres to this measure. The lake basins were created more than 10,000 years ago, during the formation of dune and sand bars, with Upper Herring Lake forming first and followed by Lower Herring Lake. Originally, the lakes formed a U-shaped embayment on Lake Algonquin, which later became Lake Michigan. Although most people are not aware of Lake Michigan’s old moniker, the body of water known as Lake Algonquin existed for more than 1.6 million years in that incarnation.

Upper Herring Lake is connected to Lower Herring Lake by Herring Creek, which empties from Upper Herring Lake’s northwestern tip and flows northwest in a meandering path until it begins to flow southwest to enter Lower Herring Lake’s northeastern tip. Both of these lakes are situated in a north-to-south direction, with water flowing east to west. From the west side of Lower Herring Lake the water continues to flow to the west and enters Lake Michigan. Although it would be easy to assume that Upper and Lower Herring Lakes were so named because of their geographic location in reference to each other, the names refer to the elevation of each lake. Upper Herring Lake rests about 13 feet higher in elevation than Lake Michigan, which is level with Lower Herring Lake’s surface.

Upper Herring Lake is situated north of the village of Elberta, a small community that sits on the southwestern side of Betsie Bay on Lake Michigan. The area is known for its array of outdoor activities, including ice fishing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and snowmobiling in the winter, and hiking, biking, sightseeing, bird watching, nature watching, photography, and visiting historic landmarks in all seasons. Sport hunters arrive in the fall, as do the leaf peepers. It’s a landscape with something for everyone who enjoys unspoiled terrain and lush forested surroundings–and, of course, gorgeous recreational lakes.

Upper Herring Lake is fully enclosed within the township of Blaine, Michigan, a small community with a population of around 500 residents in the southwestern portion of Benzie County. This town lies within the Traverse City metropolitan area, with its nearest neighbors residing in Elberta to the northwest, Benzonia to the northeast, and Arcadia to the south. Scenic state highway M-22 runs through the area and allows easy access to the lakes for locals and visitors alike.

On M-22 just north of Blaine is a spot called Inspiration Point, which is a platform built atop a bluff that overlooks Lake Michigan. Travelers generally include this viewing area in their plans, and area residents make the trip often too. There is a parking area for those who would like a simple rest stop and chance to enjoy the wide waterscape, and there are multiple-level sturdily built viewing platforms that allow sightseers a variety of vantage points and elevations. This area is a wonderful destination for vacationers planning a trip to the Northwest Michigan tourism region.

Herring Creek, which connects Upper and Lower Herring Lakes, is navigable by kayak and canoe from the public launch on Upper Herring Lake’s outlet northwest to the bridge that supports the M-22 highway, which is a leisurely paddle of less than one hour. However, for those who would like to continue on to the inlet of Lower Herring Lake, it’s a better plan to walk from the M-22 bridge. The creek becomes very shallow–too shallow for even the smallest of boats–and fallen trees and other natural obstacles make the process nearly impossible. Instead, many people choose to hike through, creekside, the rest of the way to the inlet. This meandering creek offers a relaxing course to follow from the bridge between the lakes to the inlet to Lower Herring Lake.

The area around Upper Herring Lake is largely agricultural, with fruit orchards suited well for the area climate and humidity. Apple tree orchards are very common, as are the even more abundant cherry tree orchards. Tourism is a significant part of the area economy, so accommodations for travelers are in good supply and of great variety. Campgrounds and camping rentals are popular, and every area–from small towns to small cities to the most metropolitan areas–has lodging of all kinds available. Inns, bed and breakfasts, small resorts, cabins, lakeside lodges, and private vacation rentals are also in abundance.

The Herring Lakes Watershed is made up of Upper Herring Lake, Lower Herring Lake, Herring Creek, and the surrounding wetlands, forests, farm lands and orchards. Wetlands are an important feature surrounding these lakes, with more than 2,500 acres present. In 1991, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy designated a protected area near Upper Herring Lake, which was dubbed the Upper Herring Lake Nature Preserve. More than 1,800 acres of the Herring Lakes Watershed area are included in the protective measures of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. This figure includes the Green Point Dunes National Area at 221 acres and the Fruithaven Preserve at 551 acres.

The sandy soils of the Herring Lakes Watershed are good for allowing aquifer replenishment, but the soils do not have the ability to filter toxins or clean the water before entering the lakes, rivers, and streams. Upper Herring Lake is a drinking water supply; households receive this water via private wells, not a municipal water system. The Evergreen Association is a local nonprofit lake improvement group whose goal is to protect and improve watershed water quality. This is a goal all lake lovers should keep in mind: to minimize the effects of human development on our precious watersheds.

Things to do at Upper Herring Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Birding

Fish species found at Upper Herring Lake

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

Upper Herring Lake Photo Gallery

    Upper Herring Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 542 acres

    Shoreline Length: 5 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 591 feet

    Average Depth: 23 feet

    Maximum Depth: 27 feet

    Water Volume: 12,466 acre-feet

    Lake Area-Population: 500

    Drainage Area: 26 sq. miles

    Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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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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