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Protecting Northern Michigan's ​Water Resources

Horton Creek

Horton Creek is one of Lake Charlevoix’s largest tributaries. It begins less than a mile from Lake Michigan, but then flows south (away from the Lake) for about five miles before emptying into Lake Charlevoix at Horton Bay. It drains an area of about 11.5 square miles.

Overview of Horton Creek

Primary Inflows

Headwaters

Primary Outflows

Mouth

Lake Charlevoix at Horton Bay

Surface Area

0 acres

Shoreline

Maximum Depth

Length

5 miles

Known Aquatic Invasive Species

Description:

Horton Creek is one of Lake Charlevoix’s largest tributaries.  It begins less than a mile from Lake Michigan, but then flows south (away from the Lake) for about five miles before emptying into Lake Charlevoix at Horton Bay.  It drains an area of about 11.5 square miles.  

The Creek flows through a deep, picturesque valley between high glacial moraines.  The valley at one time was flooded with the waters of Lake Algonquin, which formed steep terraces paralleling the stream.  For most of its length, the Creek flows through a narrow, densely-forested cedar swamp.  Although a few huge old-growth cedars remain; ancient, charred stumps mainly provide the only evidence of what the forest was like before the logging era.  

The stream mostly has a relatively wide, shallow channel; a sluggish current; and a very mucky bottom with lots of aquatic plants and woody debris.  In many areas, the stream has a wide, marshy margin.  Although these characteristics are not usually associated with trout streams, Horton Creek harbors an excellent population of robust, native brook trout.  In fact, the Creek was fished by Ernest Hemingway, and is mentioned in several of his stories.  Other fish living in the Creek include brook stickleback, white sucker, mottled sculpin, creek chub, pearl dace, northern redbelly dace, blacknose minnow, and central mudminnow.  The swampy/marshy stream corridor is a locally important winter deer yard, and is home to snowshoe hare; mink; weasel; waterfowl; many frogs, snakes, and turtles; as well as an occasional bobcat and bear.

Other Threats to Water Quality

  • Nonpoint source pollution
  • Eroding riverbanks

Monitoring

Biological monitoring is performed by volunteers in Horton Creek each spring and fall as part of the Watershed Council’s Volunteer Stream Monitoring (VSM) Program.

The Lake Charlevoix Watershed Management Plan Advisory Committee is at work protecting Lake Charlevoix and its tributaries.

Additional Resources

Information about Threatened, Endangered, and Special Concern species in this stream’s watershed is available on the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) website. 

USGS Current Water Data for Michigan provides stream flow conditions. 

A wide variety of maps, including Vegetation circa 1800, National Wetlands Inventory, Land Cover Change 1800’s to 1978, Wetland Change 1800’s to 1980, and many other resources for this area are available online in the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) Data Resources page.

Learn about safely eating fish from this river in the Michigan Fish Consumption Advisory.

​Read about fly fishing Horton Creek.

Additional Resources:

 

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