Paddle Still Waters

Even in Northern Michigan, lakes like these sound too good to be true. Hardly any houses (or none), hardly any motors (or none). They take a little work to reach, but that’s part of the adventure. Shove off, and yours are likely to be the only ripples spreading across the water.

French Farm Lake, Mackinaw City. Drive the two-track to the shore and drift into this 585-acre wildlife flooding. Cast for pike, perch and bluegill in the clear water. Motors allowed, but not often seen. State land surrounds, so no houses, and you can camp on the shore. Get a free permit at any DNR field office. From Mackinaw City, west on Central Avenue to the T, left on Wilderness Park Drive to the T, jog left onto the dirt road that heads into the forest across the road.

Sand Lakes, Acme. Portage your boat (wheel carts allowed) about a half mile to these silent (no motors) and well-stocked fishing holes. Find rainbows in Lake One, brookies in Lake Two, and bass and bluegill in both. Some bait restrictions apply. To camp on shore get a free permit at any DNR field office. From M-72, turn south on Broomhead Rd., go about 3 miles, look for trailhead signs on the left.

Pine Lake, Wellston. Dynamite largemouth bass fishing, hungry bluegills and the occasional brown trout. Motors are allowed, but quiet prevails. Just ask the loons and the bald eagles that nest near shore. A small gravel launch site keeps access easy. Camp in the primitive campground or stay at Pine Lake Villa — eight cottages on shore. 231-848-4505. From Wellston, take M-55 west about 1 mile to left on Bosschem Rd., go about 1 mile to right on Pine Lake Rd., take to end.

Jeff Smith is editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.[email protected]

Note: This article was first published in July 2006 and was updated for the web February 2008.

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