Walloon Lake, Michigan, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Walloon Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Walloon Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Walloon Lake

Walloon Lake – Hemingway’s Michigan. Ernest Hemingway was born here, spent 22 youthful summers here and came back to the lake for his honeymoon. The Hemingway family still owns the family cottage. That’s the kind of place Walloon Lake is, a family place, a summer place for the generations. The Hemingways first came here in the 1890’s. Since then, Walloon Lake has hosted summer properties for many of the rich and famous. Currently, the Hilton Garner family and Michael Moore have homes here. The oldest continually-inhabited property, Cavell’s “Breezes Over” was first occupied in the 1860’s. Clearly there is something about Walloon Lake that causes people to be drawn here year after year.

Originally named Talcott Lake, an early businessman renamed it Walloon Lake after a place name on an old railroad map of the area. There has never been any trace of the Belgian family it was named for, however. The only town, the small settlement of Walloon Lake Village, occupies a spot at the “v” of the two arms of the lake, on the south-east shore. Glaciers re-shaped and deepened a river valley into one of the largest lakes in Michigan. Spring fed, Walloon Lake is about 100 feet above Little Traverse Bay, a short distance away.

Walloon Lake water depth varies from 28 feet to 100 feet, deep enough to support a good population of lake trout. In one letter, Hemingway stated Walloon Lake was “the best rainbow trout fishing in America”, a sentiment shared by the many anglers suffering from his passion for fishing. The lake also sports brown trout, smallmouth bass, bluegill, perch, walleye and rock bass. Fishing, however, is not the only water sport Walloon Lake is noted for; it also boasts excellent swimming, boating and sailing.

Once dotted with rustic cabins, Walloon Lake now sports many large homes. Vacant shoreline is seldom available, but realtors in the area are more than willing to “keep an eye out” for just the right property for anyone wishing to buy. Several developments and upscale condos are under construction and are in high demand even in the current real estate market. It’s worth the trip to window-shop some of the most expensive waterfront property in Michigan. The homes are expansive and lovely; all show the same love of the water, with outdoor spaces just as important as the amenities inside. The Walloon Lake Trust and Conservancy has put nearly 1800 acres under protection, and a wide group of volunteers monitor water quality scientifically on a regular schedule. “Wallooners” claim the water is just as clear now as it was 100 years ago. The lake association boasts nearly a thousand members. Clearly, this is a much-loved lake.

For the vacation visitor, several bed and breakfasts, lodges and rental cottages provide comfortable lodging at a surprisingly reasonable price. Most cottages and resorts have boat landings and swimming areas. The marina located in Walloon Lake Village is a great spot to put the boat in the water, and there are several impromptu road-end boat launches. The ramp off Sumner Road, the one Ernest used, is still there on the west side of the west arm of Walloon Lake. Plans are in the works for a large public boat launch by the Department of Natural Resources, but extensive public comment and efforts by the Walloon Lake Association and the Walloon Lake Trust and Conservancy to protect a stand of old growth forest in the area has slowed its development.

The attraction of Walloon Lake isn’t simply the lake, however beautiful it may be. The entire area is one of the most visited areas of Michigan. Several public and private golf courses are within a very short distance of the lake. The three largest and best-known ski resorts in Michigan are within 20 miles, and attractions such as skydiving, casinos and a municipal ski resort are located nearby in Petoskey, Boyne City, Boyne Falls and Charlevoix. Hiking, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, ice skating, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ATV trails can keep the entire family occupied in all seasons.

A short trip away by car, the sands and dunes of Lake Michigan provide beautiful views over Michigan’s sunset coast. Find Petoskey stones (a form of fossilized coral) and shells on the beach; visit the Charlevoix Lighthouse, built in 1911. And for family members who are not quite sure about spending their vacation in the wilderness, this tourist mecca sports several art galleries, farmers markets and upscale dining. Two of the better dining establishments in the area offer gourmet cooking courses for their guests, featuring such skills as menu selection and wine choice. Specialty crafts and farmers markets provide the ultimate shopping experience for the discerning buyer. Petoskey’s Gaslight District is especially favored for holiday shopping.

Walloon Lake is 390 miles from Chicago and 330 miles from Detroit. In Hemingway’s day, it was possible to take the train, then a steamer to the family home. Sadly, the train no longer runs that far and must be connected with bus service at Kalamazoo. The route by car is scenic, with interstate-quality highway up US 131, changing to a well-maintained two-lane road for the last 45 miles alongside the old railroad bed. Most local roads around Walloon Lake are secondary, either paved or unpaved, and provide for some beautiful views of autumn colors. Nearest air service is approximately 35 miles away at Pellston or 50 miles away at Traverse City.

So, come to Walloon Lake for a visit. You may find, like Hemingway, you’re called to come back again and again.

Things to Do at Walloon Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Golf
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Shopping
  • Casino Gambling

Fish Species Found at Walloon Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
divider

Find Places to Stay at Walloon Lake

If you’re considering a Walloon Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Walloon Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Walloon Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.
ALL TRAVEL RESOURCES

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Walloon Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 4,320 acres

Shoreline Length: 30 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 686 feet

Average Depth: 28 feet

Maximum Depth: 100 feet

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Shop Walloon Lake Gifts

Custom Lake Tumblers

Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

SHOP NOW
Custom Lake T Shirt

Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

SHOP NOW
Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz

SHOP NOW
VIEW ALL CUSTOM LAKE PRODUCTS

Advertise Your Walloon Lake Business or Vacation Rental

LakeLubbers will soon offer businesses the opportunity to advertise and homeowners and property managers the ability to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily. If you would like additional details, please contact our advertising team.

divider

Looking for the Walloon Lake Forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here. We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

Walloon Lake Photo Gallery

New photos coming soon!

Spread the word! Share our Walloon Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!