Group of friends enjoying lake activities in Mid-Michigan

11 Best Inland Lakes For Lake Activities in Mid-Michigan

With Michigan straddling four of the five Great Lakes, much tourist attention is drawn to beach towns along the coast. However, there is a whole world of lake fun among Michigan’s 11,000 larger inland lakes. We found all sorts of opportunities in Mid-Michigan for a chance to put in a boat to fish or swim. While many smaller lakes are private, there is ample opportunity to explore and experience lake activities in Mid-Michigan. From thrilling water sports to peaceful fishing escapades, we invite you to explore the best recreational opportunities these eleven inland lakes offer in the heart of Mid-Michigan.

Pine Lake

Pine Lake, situated in Prairieville Township in Barry County, Michigan, is an alluring freshwater system renowned for its recreational opportunities and serene environment. This unique water body is a chain of four connected lakes (numbered 1-4), making up an extensive waterway perfect for exploration and water sports.

Pine Lake covers an area of approximately 660 acres, offering plenty of room for boating, jet-skiing, fishing, and other water-based activities. The four interconnected lakes provide an intriguing layout for boaters and a diverse habitat for fish. Species such as Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Walleye can be found in the waters, making the lake a popular angler spot.

The lake has two public boat launch sites: one at the west side of Pine Lake 1 and the other at the northeast corner of Pine Lake 2. These sites provide easy access for those looking to spend the day on the water. While there isn’t a designated public beach for swimming, the clear water and sandy bottom make for excellent swimming conditions off the boats or private properties.

The picturesque surroundings of the lake, with lush woodlands and a plethora of local wildlife, also offer hiking and nature observation opportunities. Birdwatchers will be pleased with regular sightings of waterfowl and other bird species.

Various local eateries, markets, and the Pine Lake Country Club are not far from the lake, which boasts an 18-hole golf course for enthusiasts.

Canadian Lakes

Canadian Lakes is a picturesque private residential community located in Mecosta County, Michigan. Known as “The Good Life” community, it boasts a myriad of recreational amenities across approximately 5,000 acres, including several lakes, golf courses, and a variety of clubs and events.

The highlight of the community is the impressive water system, including three large all-sports lakes, four small fishing lakes, and numerous ponds. The largest lakes – Canadian Lakes, Lake Laura, and Lost Canyon Lake – offer residents opportunities for a range of water-based activities, from fishing and boating to swimming and water skiing.

One of the unique aspects of Canadian Lakes is its commitment to fostering an active lifestyle. In addition to water sports, residents have access to eight tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center, and even a private beach for relaxing summer days. The community also boasts three professional golf courses – The Royal, The Highlands, and The Pines – which provide challenges and fun for golfers of all levels.

Fishing is a popular activity in Canadian Lakes, with the water bodies rich in a variety of species like Bass, Bluegill, Walleye, and Northern Pike. Ice fishing is also a popular pastime during the winter months.

The community organizes various events throughout the year, fostering camaraderie and enhancing Canadian Lakes’ vibrant lifestyle. These include fishing tournaments, holiday celebrations, and various club activities.

Clifford Lake

Clifford Lake, located near Stanton in Montcalm County, Michigan, is a gorgeous inland lake known for its serene environment and exciting recreational activities. Covering approximately 263 acres, Clifford Lake is a magnificent location for residents and visitors seeking the beauty and tranquility of Michigan’s lake country.

One of the unique features of Clifford Lake is its crystal clear water, which provides ideal conditions for various water-based activities. Swimmers enjoy the clean water, while anglers are attracted to various fish species, including Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, and Northern Pike.

Boating is another popular activity on Clifford Lake. With a public boat launch on the west side of the lake, access is easy for everyone. Whether you prefer to spend time on a pontoon, kayak, or speed boat, the lake accommodates all types of watercraft.

While there isn’t a designated public beach, the sandy lake bottom is perfect for swimming and wading off your boat or private dock. The lake’s shoreline is dotted with beautiful vacation homes, many featuring a private beachfront.

Around the lake, you’ll find a variety of amenities, including the Clifford Lake Inn. Established in 1881, this historic restaurant provides fantastic views of the lake and offers delicious meals, making it a perfect dining spot after a day spent on the water.

Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake is a picturesque inland lake near Carson City in Montcalm County, Michigan. Spanning roughly 724 acres, this lake truly lives up to its name, boasting crystal clear, sparkling blue waters that invite visitors to dive in.

One of Crystal Lake’s standout features is its versatility for recreation. The lake’s expansive surface area is an ideal destination for various water activities. Boating, fishing, water skiing, and kayaking are popular pastimes, but the true highlight is the lake’s fantastic swimming conditions.

The lake’s abundant fish population, including species such as Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Bluegill, makes fishing a beloved activity for locals and visitors alike. Anglers can look forward to an exciting day out on the water, with the promise of a great catch.

Unlike many other inland lakes, Crystal Lake does have a designated public beach at Crystal Township Park and Beach. Visitors can enjoy the sun, sand, and clear water in a safe and fun environment. The community has big plans to develop this park in the future. The public boat launch on the lake’s southern end ensures easy access for all.

Bordering the lake, you’ll find charming cottages and homes, many of which are available for rental throughout the year. This provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in the tranquil beauty of Crystal Lake truly.

While offering an escape into nature, Crystal Lake also has the advantage of being near Carson City, allowing for easy access to amenities such as shops, restaurants, and healthcare facilities.

Lake Lansing

Lake Lansing is a delightful natural oasis located in Ingham County, Michigan, near the city of Lansing. The lake, which covers approximately 461 acres, was historically a popular resort area and continues to draw visitors and residents alike with its attractive shores and variety of recreational offerings.

The main attraction of Lake Lansing is undoubtedly its well-maintained public beach, located in Lake Lansing Park-South. The sandy beach area provides ample space for sunbathing, building sandcastles, or simply lounging by the water. Lifeguards are typically on duty during beach hours, providing an added layer of safety for families with young children.

Water-based activities are popular on Lake Lansing. The lake’s calm waters are ideal for boating, jet-skiing, and fishing, with the lake being home to species such as Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, and Northern Pike. For those without their own watercraft, boat rentals are available at the lake during the summer season.

Adjacent to the public beach is a large bandshell where concerts and other community events are held throughout the summer. These events add a social dimension to the lake’s recreational offerings and are a great way to meet locals and fellow visitors alike.

Additionally, Lake Lansing Park-North offers excellent hiking and nature observation trails, making it a favorite among nature enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat from the city. In the winter, these trails are also used for cross-country skiing.

The lake’s proximity to Lansing, the state capital, also means that restaurants, shopping, and other urban amenities are just a short drive away. This balance of natural beauty and city convenience makes Lake Lansing an ideal destination for day trips and longer stays.

Jordan Lake

Jordan Lake is a scenic treasure near Lake Odessa in Ionia County, Michigan. Covering about 430 acres, this all-sports lake offers a broad array of water-based recreational activities and serves as a much-loved haven for locals and visitors.

An enticing destination for anglers, Jordan Lake teems with a variety of fish species. You’ll find Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, Northern Pike, and Walleye, among others, making the lake a favored spot for both casual and competitive fishing.

For those more inclined towards active watersports, Jordan Lake doesn’t disappoint. Its size and depth accommodate a wide range of activities, from leisurely boating and kayaking to more adrenaline-inducing waterskiing and jet-skiing. In the summer, the lake comes alive with boats and watercraft of all types, creating a vibrant, fun-filled atmosphere.

Although Jordan Lake does not have a designated public beach, the clear, clean waters are great for swimming. Residents and visitors often swim off their boats or from private lakefront properties. Make sure to follow all safety guidelines if you choose to swim in the lake.

Jordan Lake’s appeal extends beyond the water’s edge. The surrounding area is rich with rolling landscapes, charming homes, and farmlands contributing to a tranquil, idyllic setting. The nearby village of Lake Odessa is a friendly, small-town community with shops, eateries, and the beautiful Lake Odessa Fairground that hosts annual events and gatherings.

One of the lake’s annual highlights is the Fourth of July fireworks display over the water, a tradition that brings together the local community in celebration.

Holloway Reservoir 

Holloway Reservoir is a large body of water straddling Genesee and Lapeer counties near the village of Columbiaville, Michigan. This man-made reservoir is part of the Flint River and spans approximately 2,000 acres. It’s the largest body of water in the county, and its generous size is well-suited to a range of recreational activities.

The reservoir is a well-known destination for fishing. The plentiful waters of Holloway Reservoir host a variety of species, such as Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Walleye, making it a hotspot for local anglers. The reservoir’s large size also means that there are ample spots for fishing along the shoreline or from a boat.

For those who prefer water-based activities, Holloway Reservoir is an excellent spot for boating, jet-skiing, and sailing. Its wide expanses are perfect for those who want to experience the freedom of the open water. The reservoir is also a popular location for rowing and hosts annual regattas.

While the reservoir does not have a designated public beach, several spots along the shoreline are suitable for picnicking and enjoying the beautiful views. Please remember to respect the natural environment and leave no trace of your visit.

The Holloway Reservoir Regional Park is located on the reservoir’s shores and offers additional recreational opportunities. The park features numerous hiking trails, excellent bird-watching opportunities, and a few campgrounds for those who wish to stay overnight. During the winter, these trails become popular spots for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Park Lake

Park Lake is a delightful, tranquil body of water nestled in Bath Township, just north of East Lansing in Michigan. Covering approximately 160 acres, this serene lake offers an array of recreational activities and provides an oasis of calm in a busy world.

Park Lake is known for its excellent fishing opportunities. The clear waters of the lake are home to an array of fish species, including Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Crappie, Northern Pike, and Yellow Perch, making it a beloved destination for local anglers whether fishing from the shore or a boat; the peaceful surroundings and the thrill of the catch make for a satisfying experience.

The lake is also well-suited for other water-based activities. Canoeing, kayaking, and boating are popular on the lake, with the calm waters offering a soothing, leisurely experience. Motorized boating is allowed on the lake, but the speed is limited, maintaining a peaceful environment.

The Park Lake Beach is a public beach located on the northeast shore of the lake. This small sandy beach is the perfect spot to take a refreshing swim in the summer months, sunbathe, or have a picnic with family and friends. It’s a favorite spot for locals to cool down and relax on hot summer days.

The Park Lake Beach Site provides additional information about the beach rules and regulations.

Situated close to the lake is the Park Lake Creamery, a delightful spot to grab an ice cream, sandwich, or bakery item. You can also rent a boat for the day at Park Lake Boat Rentals. 

Sanford Lake

Sanford Lake is a beloved recreation area located in Midland County, Michigan. Stretching over 1,500 acres, this large, man-made lake was created by the Sanford Dam on the Tittabawassee River and has served as a significant water and outdoor recreation resource for the local communities and visitors alike.

One of the main highlights of Sanford Lake is its excellent fishing. Anglers can look forward to a rich variety of fish species including Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, and a variety of Panfish. The large size of the lake provides ample space for shoreline fishing and boat fishing.

Boating is another popular pastime on Sanford Lake. The calm, expansive waters make it ideal for power boating, jet-skiing, sailing, kayaking, and canoeing. There’s a public boat launch available for easy access to the water.

Sanford Lake was known for its public beach, which was a major summer attraction. Here, visitors enjoyed swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. However, due to the failure of the Sanford Dam in 2020, which resulted in dramatic flooding and subsequent lake drainage, the beach and the lake’s water levels have been significantly affected. Restoration efforts are ongoing, and it is advisable to check local updates for current conditions and availability of activities.

Despite these changes, the area surrounding Sanford Lake still offers recreational opportunities. The Pere Marquette Rail-Trail, a 30-mile long trail stretching from Midland to Clare, passes through Sanford and is a popular route for biking, walking, running, and in-line skating.

Kiwassee Lake

Stratford Beach is a well-loved recreational area in Midland, Michigan. Nestled within Stratford Woods Park, this beach offers visitors an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and provides many outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy.

A highlight of Stratford Beach is the sizable sandy area that borders the clear, clean waters of the man-made Kiwassee Lake. This public beach is a favorite among locals for sunbathing, building sandcastles, or simply enjoying a good book under the sun. For water enthusiasts, the lake provides an excellent opportunity for swimming in a designated area during the warmer months.

Adjacent to the beach, Stratford Woods Park is equipped with amenities that add to the appeal of the area. This includes a vast playground, picnic tables, grills, and a pavilion, which can be reserved for private events. The park also boasts an extensive trail network, perfect for a peaceful walk or an invigorating run.

While the park and beach do not host any major festivals, Stratford Woods Park is the location of the annual “Dirty Dog Trail Run”, a fun event for runners, walkers, and their furry friends. The race takes place on the park’s wooded trails and proceeds go to the SOS Animal Rescue.

More information about the beach and the park can be found on the Midland Parks and Recreation website.

Pearl Lake

Pearl Lake is a charming, relatively small body of water located near Sheridan in Montcalm County, Michigan. Despite its modest size, this inland lake is a gem nestled in a serene, rural setting and offers numerous opportunities for recreation and relaxation.

The lake is primarily used for recreational purposes, including fishing, boating, and swimming. Anglers will find a variety of fish species in Pearl Lake, such as Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, and Northern Pike. Given its size, Pearl Lake is more suited to small boats, canoes, and kayaks, rather than larger watercraft. This makes it an ideal destination for quiet and peaceful boating experiences.

While there isn’t a dedicated public beach, the lake’s clear water and sandy bottom make it a delightful spot for swimming during the warm months. Public access to the lake may be limited due to the private properties surrounding the lake. Always ensure you access the lake from a public access point or with permission.

Apart from the water-based activities, the rural surroundings of Pearl Lake provide opportunities for outdoor exploration. Bird watching and nature walks are popular among visitors who prefer land-based activities.

Final Thoughts About Lake Activities in Mid-Michigan

Mid-Michigan’s inland lakes beckon with a wealth of recreational opportunities, all waiting to be explored. Whether you’re casting a line in search of the perfect catch or gliding across the water in a kayak, the region’s lakes offer a magical escape into nature’s embrace. Embrace the joy of outdoor living and immerse yourself in the serenity of these delightful inland oases.

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Michael Hardy

Michael Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. Michael was born in Michigan and grew up near Caseville. In 2009 he started this fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

View all posts by Michael Hardy →

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