How Deep is Torch Lake? Discover Northern Michigan’s Deepest Lakes

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Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: May 31, 2023

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Michigan residents that like to swim and enjoy the outdoors may be happy to know that there are 64,911 lakes and ponds in the state. Each one has a unique length, depth, and width. Within this state is a massive and beautiful lake, Lake Superior.

Lake Superior is the world’s largest freshwater lake by area. While Torch Lake is not the deepest lake in the state, it does have an impressive maximum depth of 285 feet, making it the deepest inland lake in Michigan.

Are you ready to discover more fun facts about Torch Lake? Keep on reading!

The History of Torch Lake

Torch Lake was formed at the end of the Last Glacial Period.


Torch Lake was formed at the end of the Last Glacial Period. It has a long history and is not man-made! Actually, it formed alongside Lake Michigan. During the Last Glacial Period, many glaciers slowly melted, which filled basins now known as the Great Lakes.

Its name comes from local Native Americans that lived by the lake. They used torches at night by the river and the lake when hunting for fish. The original name was waaswaaganing, which roughly translates to “Place of Torches.”

What is the Average Depth of Torch Lake?

Torch Lake MI

The average depth of Torch Lake is 111 feet.


One key detail about Torch lake is that it is the deepest inland lake in Michigan. The average depth of Torch Lake is 111 feet. The deepest point of Torch Lake is said to be 285 feet, but this is debated. Some sources state the true depth is 310 feet, while others estimate the deepest point at 350 feet. Either way, it is a very deep lake! During the hottest day in the summer, Torch Lake is around 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Long is Torch Lake?

There is more to Torch Lake than its average depth. It is about 19 miles long, making it the state’s longest inland lake. The lake also has 41 miles of shoreline, perfect for swimming, camping, hiking, and fishing!

The maximum width of the lake is 2 miles, but in some parts, it is less. This lake is narrow, and at the Southern end, you can find a shallow sandbar with clear water. The sandbar has been frequently compared to Caribbean beaches because of its crystal clear complexion.

Where is Torch Lake Located on a Map?

Torch Lake is located in the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, specifically within Antrim County. To get there from Traverse City, take M-72 west towards Empire and then make a left onto County Road 669 to head north towards Torch Lake. If you’re coming from the south (Grand Rapids area), take US-131 north to exit 131 for Mancelona/Alba and follow signs for County Road 42 until you reach County Road 619, which will take you east towards Torch Lake. On a map, Torch Lake can be found between Elk Rapids and Central Lake, just east of Grand Traverse Bay.

Animals in Torch Lake

What Do Trout Eat - Rainbow Trout Bursting from Surface

Rainbow trout are common in Torch Lake.


Torch Lake is home to many animals, mainly large fish. With such a deep lake, there are certain levels. The fish you find while fishing in Torch Lake depends on the depth and where you park your boat or kayak.

The most common fish in Torch Lake are smallmouth bass, yellow perch, muskies, white fish, Atlantic salmon, and rainbow trout. Many of these fish live in deeper waters because they prefer cold temperatures.

Black Bear Population by State

While not common, black bears can sometimes be seen around Torch Lake.

©jo Crebbin/

Animals Around Torch Lake

Other than fish, you can also find white-tail deer and porcupines stopping for a drink. There is a lack of large wildlife and small fish since trees have been uprooted from the waters, which used to provide a hiding space. While not common, there is a chance you can run into black bears since they are frequent throughout the state and mainly hunt for fish.

5 Deep Lakes in Michigan

1. Higgins Lake

Higgins Lake

Higgins Lake has a maximum depth of 135 feet.


Higgins Lake is another older lake formed thousands of years ago. It was first discovered in 1839. While it is a deep lake with a maximum depth of 135 feet, it is still a lot smaller than Torch Lake. Underneath the lakes are submerged springs that feed water into the lake.

Most people travel to Higgins Lake to fish as there is an abundance of fish like bass and trout. Ice fishing during winter is also permitted. The lake is also 7 miles long and is surrounded by multiple state parks, including the South Higgins Lake State Park and the North Higgins Lake State Park.

2. Union Lake


Union Lake is primarily for fishing.


Union Lake is nowhere close to being the deepest lake in Michigan, but it is still an honorable mention. This unique lake is situated in Oakland County and Commerce Township. It is on a smaller scale compared to other giants on this list, but it is a major fishing lake in the state.

There is a large walleye population in the lake, which makes it the best in the state for fishing. Other than walleye, you can also fish for yellow perch, northern pike, and pumpkinseed sunfish. It is about 465 acres and has a maximum depth of 110 feet, but there are shallow fishing areas of 10 feet or less.

3. Loon Lake


Loon Lake is connected to the Clinton River.

©Peter Gudella/

A favorite amongst locals is Loon Lake. It has a short history, and the surrounding neighborhood holds competitions and events year-round. The maximum depth of the lake is 73 feet. Loon Lake holds the title of the ninth-deepest lake in Oakland County. It is actually very close to Union Lake.

At the bottom of the lake is sand, and the lake sits on 243 acres of land. During the year, residents hold annual hydroplane boat races. On any given day, you can find people fishing for black crappie and smallmouth bass.

4. Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan, Michigan City, Indiana

Lake Michigan touches four states, despite its name.

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Lake Michigan has an average depth of 279 feet and a maximum depth of 923 feet.

Millions of people visit Lake Michigan every year because it is easy to do. Lake Michigan, despite its name, touches four states, including Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. With how clear the water is, it shouldn’t surprise you to know there are lots of beaches to choose from!

5. Lake Erie

Lake Erie

Lake Erie is the shallowest of the five Great Lakes


While Lake Erie is the shallowest of the five Great Lakes, this does not mean it isn’t deep. The average depth of the lake is 62 feet, while the deepest is 210 feet. However, it is a massive lake with a shore length of 799 miles, not including the various islands sitting in this lake.

There are hundreds of fish species in this lake, and the commonly found ones are white perch, common carp, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and walleye. Cleveland, Ohio, a major city, borders a section of Lake Erie.

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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