In a land of jaw-dropping beautiful lakes, Torch Lake is considered by many to be the state’s crown jewel. On sunny days, when the turquoise waters are reminiscent of the Caribbean, it’s hard to argue with them. Beautiful, certainly, and generous enough to offer plenty of room to play on a Northern Michigan vacation.
Stretching 19 miles, Torch Lake is Michigan’s longest lake—and boasting over 18,000 acres, it’s also the state’s second biggest lake. When you figure in the fact that Torch is a keystone in the magnificent 75-miles of interconnected water known as the Chain of Lakes, well, the possibilities of fun on this Northern Michigan attraction are endless.
How to Play the Torch Way
For all its largess, Torch Lake doesn’t offer many public access beaches and none of them are traditional sugar-and-sand beaches like those on nearby Lake Michigan. But if you’re looking to dip your toes into these gorgeous waters (and trust us, you do), the pretty little beach at William K. Good Day Park in Torch Lake Township is the place. Pavilions, picnic tables, a public boat launch and swimming area make this a great spot to spend the day.
Find it: The eastern end of Public Dock Road, on US-31 just a few miles south of M-88. If you need more info, dial up the Torch Lake Township Clerk at 231.599.2036.
The Torch Lake public beach in the tiny resort town of Alden is another place to spread a towel or take a dip. Towel off, throw on your cover-up and your flip-flops and hit the eateries and shops that are a stone’s throw away. Since this beach faces due west, this is where you’ll want to head at sunset.
Find it: Downtown Alden at the dog-leg on South East Torch Lake Drive (C-Hwy 593).
The best way to access Torch Lake is by boat. If you don’t have your own, rent your craft of choice—from pontoons to powerboats and everything in between—at Dewitt Marine at the mouth of the Clam River near Bellaire (6509 Crystal Springs Rd., Bellaire, 231.377.6611). Stop by The Clam Shack, with easy dock access to gas up and stock your cooler for a day on the water.
With an average depth of 200 feet, Torch Lake is a lake and brown trout paradise. You just might catch perch or Atlantic salmon, too. Set your downriggers and get ready to reel. Day or night charters are available through Torch Time Charters North (3842 Thierry Circle, Eastport, 231.590.1949)
Torch’s famed sand bar, on the lake’s south end, is a bustling boating spot on sunny summer days (particularly so over the July Fourth holiday), so those seeking a little more peace and quiet will find the lake’s northern stretches more their speed.
The charming resort towns of Alden, Bellaire, Eastport, Clam River and Torch, all located on Torch’s shores, come alive in the summer with eateries and boutiques. Check out Mammoth Distilling, a newer craft distillery in Central Lake, popular Short’s Brewing Company in Bellaire, and Blue Water Bistro and Pizzeria near Alden.
Just 17 miles northeast of Traverse City, Torch Lake is easily accessible to Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City.
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