Discover the Deepest Lake in Wayne County, Michigan

Written by Andrew Wood
Updated: May 31, 2023
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You may not have heard of Wayne County, but you surely know its county seat: Detroit, Michigan. Most often, Detroit brings to mind images of skyscrapers and factories, but it also has its own lake: Belleville Lake, which at 30 feet deep, is the deepest lake in Wayne County. The lake has an interesting history and is a good place for fishing and observing local wildlife.

Man h holding a freshwater drum
Fishing is one of the main attractions of Belleville Lake.

©Roxana Gonzalez/

History of Belleville Lake

Construction of the Lake

Belleville Lake was constructed in 1925 when the French Landing Dam and Powerhouse was built on the Huron River. They originally named it Edison Lake because the Detroit Edison Company built the dam to generate hydroelectric power. The lake is 8 miles long and has a surface area of 1,270 acres. It is long and narrow, following the path of the Huron River. Although it is only 30 feet deep at its deepest point, it is still the deepest lake in Wayne County. Unfortunately, filling the lake inundated the historic community of Rawsonville, a Michigan state historic site.

The Belleville Lake Bridge

Part of the construction project included building the Belleville Lake Bridge to connect local communities with Detroit. It remained in use until 1985 and was a candidate for the National Register of Historic Places. Nevertheless, someone dismantled and sold it to Kent County, where it remains in use. The new Belleville Bridge is a four-lane concrete bridge.

blue winged teal
Ducks and other waterfowl frequent Belleville Lake. Fishing is allowed on the lake, but not hunting.

©James W. Thompson/

Fish Poisoning: By Accident and By Design

Belleville Lake was poisoned twice in 1973, once by accident and once by design. In May of that year, the city used a poison called Retenone in Ford Lake, a mile upstream, to eliminate undesirable fish populations before restocking the lake. Unfortunately, they did not properly contain the poison, and it went downstream, where it killed 350,000 pounds of fish in Belleville Lake.

By September of that year, officials reached a decision to complete the poisoning of Belleville Lake to eliminate the invasive common carp that was overwhelming indigenous fish species. The plan was to drain most of the lake so that less poison would be necessary, but as the water level went down, dangerous cracks appeared in two bridges, and a gas line ruptured because of ground movement as the water level lowered. With the lake only 1/3 drained, they dropped Rotenone in the lake and killed 850,000 pounds of fish, 95% of which were carp, the target species. They repaired the infrastructure and restocked the lake with indigenous fish that were more desirable for game fishing.

common carp
The common carp is an invasive species that dominates many lakes and rivers in North America.

©Edvard Ellric/

Where to Find Belleville Lake on a Map

Belleville Lake is a large body of water located in the state of Michigan, USA. It is situated approximately 20 miles southwest of Detroit and covers an area of about 1,280 acres. To locate Belleville Lake on a map, one needs to look for it in Wayne County, which is part of the greater Detroit metropolitan area. The lake can be found just south of the city of Belleville and northwest of Ypsilanti Township. Visitors can access the lake by taking exit 190 off I-94 or via Belleville Road (M-153).

Recreational Opportunities at Belleville Lake

Many recreational opportunities are available on Belleville Lake, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors to the area.

  • Parks: The public has access to several parks on the lakefront, such as Doane’s Landing, French Landing Park, Horizon Park, and Van Buren Park.
  • Boating: The lake has two public boat launches: the Belleville Lake-West and -East access points.
  • Fishing: Fishermen can catch numerous fish species: bluegill, catfish, common carp, black crappie, large and smallmouth bass, suckers, sunfish, walleye, and yellow perch.
  • Walking trail: The Border-to-Border Trail passes along the lake and connects to the Iron Belle Trail.
  • Lakefest: 2021 was the inaugural year of an annual summer celebration with food, games, music, and other family-friendly events.
Duck Hunting in a Boat
Humans and their pet friends can always find ways to enjoy an afternoon at the lake.

©Moroz Elena/

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Downtown Detroit in Michigan, USA
Downtown Detroit in Michigan, USA

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer, world traveler, and lifelong animal lover. Currently, I'm an "Emotional Support Human" to 4 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 guinea pigs. My favorite wild animal is the quokka, the most selfie-friendly animal in the world!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the deepest lake in Wayne County, Michigan?

Belleville Lake, at 30 feet deep, is the deepest lake in Wayne County, Michigan.

Why was Belleville Lake poisoned in 1973?

It was initially accidentally poisoned in 1973 during a fish eradication and restocking effort from Ford Lake, a mile upstream. Later that year, a decision was made to poison Belleville Lake to kill the invasive common carp and restock the lake with indigenous game fish species.

What can you do at Belleville Lake?

The lake has two boat landings and is available for boating swimming, and other water-based activities. There are several lakefront parks and a walking trail to enjoy. Fishing is allowed and the lake is kept stocked with a wide diversity of species. A new annual summer event called Lakefest provides family-friendly activities including food vendors, games, a rubber duck race, bands, and water-based activities.

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