Featured Lake

Featured Lake: Thumb Lake, Charlevoix County

On my way downstate the other day, returning from an event near Petoskey, I took a slightly different route to I-75. My day had ended earlier than expected, it was sunny and 70+ degrees in April, and it was hard not to feel good. Just before Boyne Falls I jogged east on a road called Thumb Lake Road. It was a curious sounding name, but I didn’t think much more of it. I knew I had not been along that stretch before, the surrounding terrain was rugged with large hills and ravines and covered in mostly hardwoods without any leaves on them yet. It looked like wild country and you could see far through the forest without any leaves or foliage yet. 

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I scanned the hillsides and valleys hoping to catch a glimpse of a black bear looking for calories in a rotted stump or fresh-sprouted fiddleheads. No luck in that regard this time, however, not long after I came upon a lake on the north side of the road. I figured that must be Thumb Lake. It was clearly a unique place just by glancing at it a few times. In general, it did not look heavily developed, but the large steep hills rising from the edges gave the sense of a mountain lake in the Alps or a fjord in Norway.

I decided to find out more about the Thumb Lake after I arrived downstate. It’s a deep lake with a max depth of 152 feet, and sizeable at 484 acres. It is nestled in the highlands east of the village of Boyne Falls. The elevation of 1033 feet above sea level and lack of runoff into the lake contributes to exceptionally clear water. A Christian religious camp has owned a large portion of land bordering the lake since the days of logging, and by all accounts have been good stewards of the land.

There is a public DNR boat launch in the southwest corner of the lake. Charlevoix County also operates a public park on the lake, and they allow dogs on parts of the beach. The highest peak around the lake rises to 1400 feet above sea level and is known locally as Spirit Mountain. It’s not hard to imagine that it has long been a sacred place for anyone who has spent time here.

I was kicking myself for not stopping and getting some photos. At the same time, it is fun to look forward to going back, besides, this article does not have to tell you everything there is to know. I hope you have the chance to make your own discoveries. But please share some of them with us! 


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