Protecting Northern Michigan's ​Water Resources

Walloon Lake

Walloon Lake is located within the Little Traverse Bay Watershed and empties into Lake Michigan via the Bear River. Walloon Lake is considered an outstanding ecological, aesthetic, and recreational resource.

4,584 acres


30.5 miles


100 feet


Overview of Walloon Lake


Primary Outflows

Surface Area

4,584 acres


30.5 miles

Maximum Depth

100 feet


Walloon Lake’s rolling glacial terrain surrounds its deep waters, including its five distinct depressions or basins:

  • Foot – 94 ft.
  • Mud Lake – 14 ft.
  • West Arm – 100 ft.
  • North Arm – 52 ft.
  • Wildwood – 80 ft.

The lake and its watershed are located in Bay, Evangeline, and Melrose townships of Charlevoix County; and Bear Creek and Resort Townships of Emmet County. The lake has a relatively small watershed (22,650 acres) compared to its lake surface area (4,270 acres). Five percent of the Walloon Lake Watershed is classified as wetlands. Of particular importance is the North Arm’s wetland complex, where over 5,000 acres of the land drain through the wetlands before reaching the waters of the North Arm.

Walloon Lake is primarily fed by groundwater (53%) and only has a few small inlet creeks, Schoof’s Creek, and Fineout. Walloon Lake is characterized as an oligotrophic lake.  It has low plant growth and algae, high water clarity, and is generally cold and deep. The lake supports populations of walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, rock bass, perch, and stocked rainbow and lake trout. 

Water Quality 

Since the turn of the century, Walloon Lake has attracted development. Its irregular shoreline results in a high (3.0) shoreline development factor (i.e., the ratio of shoreline length [27.5 miles] to lake surface area). This means the lake is more susceptible to pollution from shoreline activity (development, erosion, fertilizer use, etc.) than a lake that is rounder. The lake, however, has managed to maintain its excellent water quality despite pressures and impacts from increasing shoreline development. While several features, including the lake’s depth, the presence of marl (a type of soil that contains calcium carbonate and clay), and its small watershed size enhance the lake’s ability to buffer its waters from the detrimental effects of development, the lake is not unaffected. The irregular shoreline of Walloon Lake and its long retention period (4.1 years) make it particularly sensitive to nutrient additions from development. 

Lake Pollution 

The majority of pollutants entering the lake are nutrients, primarily phosphorus, sediment from nonpoint sources, such as runoff from fields and roads, and leachate from failing septic systems. With over 830 dwellings along its shoreline, many aging septic systems contribute wastewater seepage directly into the lake. In addition, many of the shoreline soils do not adequately remove nutrients from septic system effluent.


Wetlands provide various important ecological services that contribute to the health of Walloon Lake and other surface waters in the Watershed, including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality protection, flood control, and erosion prevention. Walloon Lake has five large wetland complexes: Schoof’s Creek, Jones Landing, Mud Lake, Lily Pad Bay, and South Arm Creek. These wetlands are all detailed in the “Walloon Lake Wetlands and Tributaries Assessment 2012” in Reports and Studies.

Monitoring and Research:

Walloon Lake is monitored every three years through the Watershed Council’s Comprehensive Water Quality Monitoring (CWQM) Program for dissolved oxygen, specific conductivity, pH, nitrate-nitrogen, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and chloride levels.

Water transparency, chlorophyll-a, and water temperature are also monitored in Walloon Lake each summer by volunteers as part of the Watershed Council’s Volunteer Lake Monitoring (VLM) Program.

The Advisory Committee of the Little Traverse Bay Watershed Protection Plan is working to protect Walloon Lake, as its water drains into Little Traverse Bay.

Additional Resources:

See additional resources on our Aquavist page

View an interactive map, including public access sites, at Michigan Fishweb.

A wide variety of maps for this area are available online at the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) Data Resources page.

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

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

2016 Walloon Lake Shoreline SurveyShoreline Surveys, Walloon Lakeshoreline-surveys walloon-lake inland-lakes
2013 Walloon Lake Aquatic Vegetation SurveyAquatic Plant Surveys, Walloon Lakeaquatic-plant-surveys walloon-lake inland-lakes
2012 Walloon Lake Wetlands and Tributary AssessmentWalloon Lakewalloon-lake inland-lakes
2011 Walloon Lake Profile CWQMComprehensive Water Quality Monitoring, Walloon Lakecomprehensive-water-quality-monitoring walloon-lake inland-lakes
2011 Walloon Lake Greenbelt SurveyWalloon Lakewalloon-lake inland-lakes

Latest News

Walloon Lake Association
Walloon Lake Association
Our mission is to conserve, care for and enhance the connection of people to Walloon Lake and its watershed, now and forever.
4060 N. M-75 Ste. 102, Walloon Lake, Michigan, 49796

Media Gallery: