Top 12 Fascinating Facts about Torch Lake

If you enjoy nature, then this lake in Northern Michigan will definitely be a natural wonder you will enjoy to the fullest.

Although it’s sometimes overshadowed by its enormous bigger brother to the west, this amazing lake is big enough to hold some remarkable records.

In this article, we take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Torch Lake, an amazing body of water with a remarkable history.

1. It’s part of a watershed that is known as the “Chain of Lakes”

Torch Lake is an elongated lake in Northern Michigan or “Northern Lower Michigan,” a popular tourist destination for nature lovers.

The lake is only separated by narrow sandbars from its much bigger brother, Lake Michigan, one of the Five Great Lakes of North America.

Multiple towns are situated within the vicinity of this lake, including Torch Lake, Central Lake, Forest Home, Helena, and Milton.

These towns are located in Antrim County, while a town called Clearwater Township is situated within the nearby Kalkaska County.

Torch Lake location
A view of the amazing lake / Wiki Commons

2. It was once a bay of Lake Michigan

The Five Great Lakes of North America were formed when glaciers retreated at the end of the last Ice Age about 12 millennia ago.

These glaciers carved enormous basins into the Earth’s surface. The melting glacial ice filled them to form this collection of huge lakes in the North American landscape.

One of the most interesting facts about Torch Lake is that it was once part of Lake Michigan in the form of one of this huge lake’s many bays.

Sandbanks started developing in the northern part of the lake which separated it from Lake Michigan. Many sandbanks can still be seen inside the lake today as well.

Torch Lake sandbanks
Aerial view of one of the lake’s sandbanks / Marada / Wiki Commons

3. The name of the lake is not a reference to its shape

So why is called Torch lake anyway? One would expect that it was because of the shape of the lake, but this elongated lake doesn’t bear any resemblance to a torch at all.

The name f the lake, however, is the translation of the Ojibwe word “Waaswaaganing” which means “Place of Torches” or “Place of Flames.”

The Ojibwe were a group of Anishinaabe people who are native to the region of the Five Great makes in southern Canada and the northern part of the Midwestern United States.

They once placed torches around the lake in order to attract fish which they subsequently hunted with spears and nets.

Why is it called Torch Lake
The lake on a Summer day / Andrew Lin / Wiki Commons

4. It’s both the longest and deepest inland lake in Michigan

Lake Michigan straddles the border of the U.S. states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana, so it can’t be referred to as an inland lake in Michigan.

This means that Torch Lake holds a number of fascinating records, including that of the longest, deepest, and most voluminous inland lake in Michigan.

To put these records in perspective, here are some of the lake’s stats:

  • Maximum Length: 19 miles (31 kilometers)
  • Maximum Width: 2 miles (3.2 kilometers)
  • Maximum Depth: 285 feet (87 meters)
  • Average Depth: 111 feet (34 meters)
  • Surface Area: 18,770 acres (7,600 hectares)
  • Volume: 0.78 cubic miles (3.3 cubic kilometers)
Torch lake animals
An amazing view of the lake / Marada / Wiki Commons

5. The lake is home to a very wide variety of fish

The Ojibwe People knew exactly what they were doing because the lake is home to a large number of fish species.

The fish that live in the lake are some of the most common lake animals in the United States, including:

  • Lake trout
  • Rock bass
  • Yellow perch
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Pike
  • Ciscoes
  • Brown trout
  • Steelhead
  • Rainbow trout
  • Atlantic salmon
  • Whitefish

As you surely expected, the combination of the abundance of fish and clear blue water makes Torch Lake a fisherman’s paradise!

Torch Lake fishing
The glistening lake as seen from a boat / Marada / Wiki Commons

More interesting facts about Torch Lake

6. Torch Lake isn’t the only lake in the United States that was named after the hunting habit of the Ojibwe People. Flambeau Lake or “Flaming Lake” in Vilas County, Wisconsin, was also named after it.

The lake in Wisconsin is significantly smaller than its counterpart in Michigan with a surface area of just 1,166 acres (472 ha) and a maximum depth of just 78 feet (24 meters).

Flambeau Lake Wisconsin
Flambeau Lake in Wisconsin / Riffsyphon1024 / Wiki Commons

7. The so-called Chain of Lakes Watershed in Northern Michigan consists of 14 makes and has a length of 75 miles (121 kilometers). All lakes in this chain are interconnected by rivers.

8. Clam Lake is the final lake before Torch Lake. It’s connected to the much larger lake by a short river called the Clam River.

9. The make drains into the Torch River which flows into Lake Skegemog. This lake is connected to Lake Elk which forms the final part of the Chain. It flows into Grand Traverse Bay at Elk Rapids, a large bay of Lake Michigan.

Elk Rapids Beach
Elk Rapids Beach and Grand Traverse Bay / Zenmasterdod / Wiki Commons

10. The original name given to the lake by the first European settlers was “Torch Light Lake.” This was eventually shortened to “Torch Lake.”

11. The lake is one of the most popular tourist destinations in this part of Michigan. Unlike on the Great Lakes, there isn’t much boat traffic which makes it a perfect place to hike, canoe, fish, or dive.

12. The most popular spot of the lake is the so-called “Torch Lake Sandbank,” a sandbank located in the utmost southern part of the lake. This spot is bustling with tourists during the Summer months and especially on the 4th of July.

The quality of the water in combination with the amazing natural landscape has resulted in multiple resorts being constructed along the shores of Torch Lakes. Many celebrities have second homes here, including Kid Rock and Eminem, to name just a few.

Torck Lake Sandbar
Aerial view of the popular sandbank / Marada / Wiki Commons