Best Lakes In Michigan For Swimming

What comes to your mind when you hear about the state of Michigan? For us, the first thing that comes to our minds is fishing. The state of Michigan is known widely for being a great destination for fishing, boating, and swimming. This is because Michigan is the only state in the USA that touches four out of the five Great Lakes; Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Ontario.

As such, Michigan’s coastline is 3288 miles long. This is the longest coastline in the U.S. and the second-longest in the world. Michigan also has other several water bodies that make it a great fishing destination. This state has over 62,000 lakes, 10,000 of which are freshwater lakes.

Michigan is also a great state to visit due to its rich history and culture, beautiful architecture, flavorful food, and an assortment of recreational activities.

Are planning to take a break from your busy schedule, enjoy the outdoors, go fishing, maybe even dip your feet in a beautiful lake as you enjoy the sunset? Then the state of Michigan is without a doubt worth your consideration.

Here is a list of the best lakes in Michigan for swimming we think you should visit.

Big Manistique Lake

The Big Manistique Lake, also simply known as the Manistique Lake is a freshwater body that covers over 10,000 acres. Located in two counties; Mackinac County and Luce County, the Big Manistique Lake is the largest in the Upper Peninsula Lake complex. Has two creeks running into it. These are Helmer creek and Portage creek.

This lake also comprises a six-lake complex; Lake Anne Louis, Big Manistique Lake, Milakokia Lake, South Manistique Lake, North Manistique Lake, and Millecoquins Lake. This gives you plenty of options for swimming and other recreational activities.

Fishing is quite popular in the Big Manistique Lake. Common fish caught in the region include the red horse, bluegill, perch, walleye, and panfish. This lake is also 6.1 meters deep which allow people to comfortable swim, jet-skiing, water skiing, and tubing.

Glen Lake

This lake is found in Leelanau County and comprises two lakes; Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake. These two lakes are connected by a channel called the Narrows, to give the appearance of one big lake.

Although both lakes typically have similar water levels, Big Glen Lake is bigger and dipper than Little Glen Lake. Big Glen Lake occupies 4,871 acres and is 130 feet deep, while Little Glen is covered 1,415 acres and is 13 feet deep.

Glen Lake is a great swimming spot as the waters in both lakes are clear and turquoise. The water is warm in both lakes and you can enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Alligator Hill.

Although not all points at Glen Lake are open to public access, there are public parks open that allow swimming and other recreational activities.

Lake Houghton

Lake Houghton is the largest inland lake in Michigan. It has a surface area of 20,044 acres, an average depth of 6.71 meters, and a maximum depth of 21 meters. Lake Houghton is located in Roscommon County.

This lake also experiences beautiful weather and offers year-round recreational activities. These include jet-skiing, golfing, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

Other than these, Lake Houghton has several beaches with public access. These include Maple Bay Natural Area, Kneff Lake Campground, and the Veterans Memorial Park.

Lake Huron

Lake Huron is among the five Great Lakes of North America. It is 229 meters deep and covers over 14 million acres. This makes it the second largest lake of all the five Great Lakes. Lake Huron is located in between the eastern shore of Ontario and Michigan.

It is also connected to Lake Michigan by the Mackinac bridge.

One of the main attractions of this lake is its fascinating blue color. This blue color is attributed to the sediments which are brought to the water surface by strong winds. The water is also warm enough for people to swim in.

You should, however, consider the water’s E. coli level before you go swimming.  The stirring up of the lake’s bottom sediments can increase the Lake’s E. coli concentration. The Huron County Health Unit recommends checking how safe the lake is before swimming.

If you can see your feet while being knee-deep in the lake, then it’s safe to swim.

Lake Leelanau

This lake is also known as Carp Lake. Just like Glen Lake, Lake Leelanau comprises two lakes connected by Narrows. These two lakes are South Lake Leelanau, and North Lake Leelanau.

This lake is located in Leelanau Peninsula and is 21 miles long, 1.5 miles wide, and 37meters deep.

This lake is a well sought-after tourist destination for various reasons. For starters, the color of the lake keeps on changing from green to blue. Some parts of the lake even become golden! Leelanau lake also has several pristine beaches where you can relax and busk after an afternoon swim.

Some of these beaches include Schneider Beach, Vans Beach, and North Beach.

To add to the colorful water and sandy beaches, Lake Leelanau has 10 wineries that produce some of the best wine in Michigan. Some of these wineries even have kid activities to keep your young ones busy and entertained.

Lake Michigamme Location

Lake Michigamme is found in both Baraga and Marquette County. It covers over 4,000 acres and is 473 m deep.

It has three beaches and 16 islands. Although not all points of the lake are accessible by the public, there are several parks and beach points that offer public access. These include the Van Riper State Park, Clain State Park, Baraga State Park, and Mclain State Park.

Beaches on Lake Michigamme that open to the public include Eagle Harbor Beach and the Michigamme Beach area.

Other than swimming, you can also enjoy paddle boating, kayaking, fishing, and canoeing.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior covers just over 82,000 km2, 257 km wide, and 406 m deep. By surface area, Lake Superior is not only the largest freshwater lake among the Great Lakes but in the entire world.

This lake is so large that it accounts for 10% of the world’s fresh surface water and 50% of all the water volume in the Great Lakes.

The average temperature of the lake is 36°F which is warm enough to swim in. Lake Superior also has great underwater visibility ranging between 8 meters to 30 meters deep. This also makes it a great spot for swimming.

Lake Superior’s water is not toxic but many people fear swimming in it due to rip currents. These are fast, strong, narrow currents that move away from the lakeshore and further into the lake. Rip currents are, therefore, dangerous as they can carry unsuspecting swimmers further into the lake.

This is especially dangerous for armature swimmers.

In case you’re caught in a rip current;

  1. Stay calm. This will help you to think clearly and conserve your energy.
  2. Don’t fight the current.
  3. Follow the shoreline to swim out of the rip current.
  4. If you can’t swim out of the current, calmly float out of the current. You can swim towards the shore once you’re out of the current.
  5. In the event, none of these steps work to get you out of the current, draw your attention to yourself. You can do this by waving your hands and calling out for help.

Burt Lake

Burt Lake is found in Tuscarora and Burt Townships. It covers 69.28 km², is 8km wide, and 181 m deep. This is the fourth largest inland lake in Michigan.

Lake Burt is a high tourist destination and it attracts three times its township’s population during tourist season. Popular recreational activities on Lake Burt include swimming, fishing, camping, boating, and canoeing.

Clam Lake

Clam Lake covers 437 acres and is 27 feet deep. This is a long slender lake. Its beaches have sand and gravel, often deposited when the water level is high.

Popular recreational activities on these lakes include fishing, swimming, and boating.

Pontiac Lake

Port Lake covers over 600 acres and is 34 feet deep. This lake mostly lies in White Lake Townships and partly in Waterford Township. Pontiac Lake is an all-sports and is the fifth largest lake in Oakland County, Michigan.

This lake has public access with a recreational center; The Pontiac Lake Recreational Area.

Most of the recreational activities are done at the recreational center and include, cross country skiing, swimming, and fishing. Other water activities that can be done at Pontiac Lake include horseback riding, hiking, hunting, and metal detecting.

Torch Lake

This lake was once part of Lake Michigan. It was, however, separated from Lake Michigan by the formation of a sandbar at the northwest point of the lake. Torch Lake covers about 19,000 acres and is 285 feet deep.

It is the second-largest lake in Michigan.

Torch Lake has clear turquoise water and white sandy beaches. It is a popular tourist destination perfect for fishing, swimming, boating, and water skiing.

Factors to Consider Before Swimming in Any Lake

Swimming in lakes might be a fun experience, but it should be done cautiously. Consider the following before swimming in any lake;

Rip Currents: Unlike swimming pools, the water in lakes is not constant. The water and air temperature in lakes keep changing, creating strong rip currents. As such, swimming in lakes and other natural water bodies requires more effort.

As such, you should stay close to the shore if you’re not a skilled swimmer where you can be safe.

Always carry a Life Jacket: This is especially important if you’re not a skilled swimmer or have little experience swimming in natural water bodies.

Always keep an eye open: Lakes and other natural water bodies may have other economic activities taking place. As such, it is common to come across boats and other water vehicles. People controlling these water vehicles won’t always see you in the water and it is up to you to be watchful and keep a safe distance.

Be mindful of sharp objects: The beach and the lake can have sharp glass bottles, shells, metals, and even fishing hooks. These can cause serious injuries if you swim into them or walk on them. Open wounds caused by these objects can also give way to infections that can become systemic if not treated.

Beware of Hazards: Each water body has hazardous animals and plants . For example, lake weed and foliage can make it hard to swim and pose the threat of drowning. Knowing these hazards will, therefore, enable you to know which areas to avoid swimming in.

Observe the Buddy Swimming System: Even skilled swimmers can get into trouble when swimming in natural water bodies. It is, therefore, important to observe the buddy swimming system. This way you can watch out and keep track of one another.

Check the Weather: This should be done before embarking on your activities at the lake. This will help you avoid any accidents caused by poor weather while at the lake.

Recreational Water Illness (RWI): Before swimming in any natural water body, ensure it safe from plants and pathogens that can cause human diseases. Toxic algae and pathogens are common in water bodies like lakes and can result in algae poisoning and cholera.

You can also get RWI’s such as ear and eye infections, skin problems, neurological problems, and diarrhea.

To prevent spreading or acquiring infections from swimming in natural water bodies, observe the following;

  1. Avoid swimming if you have diarrhea.
  2. Do not swim in lakes if you have an open wound.
  3. Avoid swallowing the water.
  4. Consider wearing water goggles and nose clippers.
  5. Avoid diving into stirred-up water.


The lakes in the state of Michigan are a great destination for outdoor and recreational activities. However, not all lakes are accessible to the public while others contain toxic algae. You should, therefore, make sure you check for accessibility and how safe the water is, before diving in for a swim.