Torch Lake - Traverse City, MI

ScarletArrowScarletArrow Posts: 836 Crazy Baller
edited October 2012 in News & Other Stuff
I'm thinking about heading north for a lake vacation instead of south (usually hit one of the big lakes in the TVA).

Has anyone ever been here? Where did you stay?

The lake gets great reviews for beauty and crystal clear water, but I'm wondering how the boat traffic is for skiing (appears to be wide open with no fingers for skiing), and water temp?

We're thinking about the beginning of July.

Thanks in advance!

Anthony Warren


  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,974 Mega Baller
    Hey, give me a PM, I can give you some inside scoop on that region.

    The lake is BEAUTIFUL. It is also big! It can be quite rough, and it has quite a bit of boat traffic, particularly once the sun is up, and it doesn't have much protection in terms of bays/jetties.

    It would not be a top pick of mine for the following:

    Inboard ski boats.
    Slalom Skiing.
    Straight up swimming (sucker is COLD).

    There are days on that lake that a 20 foot deep V inboard outboard is a wet rough ride, and there are bunches of people on there who use boats in excess of 30 feet.

    It has a kicking sandbar if you are in the right age range to enjoy drinking and partying.

    It has lots of DNR/Police activity, because there are a lot of drunk idiots on there (this is the south end I am referring to.

    Please see the following:

    This one shows the south end sandbar, with attached torch river, lake skegemog is seen near the top left, and Elk Lake lake above that, with Grand Traverse East Bay at the very top.


    Catch it on a good day however, it is a 41 mile shoreline. We have skied around the whole thing swapping out when people get tired. You'll use some gas, so bring some extra cans.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,974 Mega Baller
    Oh and second picture, this last summer someone had a course in up on Elk, and skegemog is a stumpy nightmare, of 15 foot deep water, but has a few good shores for lower speed stuff.
  • XR6HurricaneXR6Hurricane Posts: 328 Baller
    edited October 2012
    Never been there but have heard about how rough it gets. I looked into it a few years ago for a trip and I was told that my 19 footer was no place for it. The resorts are also expensive from what I could tell.

    If you are looking to do a skiing vacation in the northwoods, find yourself one of the many thousands of lakes in Minnesota. Not one of the big ones, but say 500 acres or less. There are so many to choose from that they don't really get crowded if you distance yourself from the Twin Cities. There is also a lack of big boats on the smaller lakes there. It's almost all 17' walleye boats with 75 - 115 hp motors and then the occasional ski boat. There is enough water for everyone so there's really no entanglements with the fishermen from what I could tell. In fact the people use their walleye boats for skiing and pulling the kids on tubes too. My ex-girlfriend's parents lived only an hour from the Twin Cities and we were the only boat on the lake making a wake at 8:30 AM on the 4th of July. Even the middle of the day was livable and the evenings got perfect from about 8:00 - 9:00. I think we finally quit about 9:15. The days are of course long. Just bring your wet suit if your blood is at all thin.
  • ScarletArrowScarletArrow Posts: 836 Crazy Baller
    Thanks! Looking for a place to bring the SN200 for some good open water skiing. I don't mind COOLer water, but COLD is definitely not on the menu for the Mrs. on a summer vacation.
    Anthony Warren
  • StonerStoner Posts: 73 Baller
    @ScarletArrow - Torch lake is beautiful but IMO will be a zoo around the 4th. One of our kids is a camp counselor up at Torch and just driving around Traverse City can be a challenge during tourist season. As far as skiing - hit or miss. My ski partner pontooned up there for a week this summer and was shocked at the amount of glass and free skiing that he missed by taking the wrong boat. Another buddy of mine lives in Traverse and trailers his Sportstar to either Cedar, Leelanau, or Crystal Lake. Courses on Crystal and Cedar. Good luck. There are a ton of lakes here in MI.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,974 Mega Baller
    @stoner - that is the problem with the lake. You can have 100% unspoiled glass on a 90 degree summer day at 2 in the afternoon. Or you can have a week of whitecaps from dawn to dusk.

    I prefer windy days if I'm up there, atleast that causes one shoreline to be usable. But there are days that you couldn't use a ski boat on these lakes at all.
  • BlueSkiBlueSki Posts: 938 Mega Baller
    It is a beautiful area, I have been there a number of times. Annually we head up to Grand Lake on the northeast side of the northern lower peninsula. There is an 100 year-old hunting lodge with a number of cabins, and the best part, they provide a full hot breakfast and dinner everyday. There is no cooking for the Mrs., no arguing about where to go for dinner, and no need to dress up for dinner. ( The skiing can be very good as long as the wind is not too bad, but on the days when a northwest wind blows hard, a day off is usually in order. There is always a calm spot on the lake, you just may have to go through some rough stuff to get there. I think that is true for just about all of the lakes in N. MI.
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