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Northern Michigan | Water Wonderland: Lake Leelanau

In the heart of Leelanau County, one of Michigan’s (and the world’s) most beautiful places, lies one of the most sought-after bodies of water; Lake Leelanau. Appearing to many to actually be two bodies of water, Lake Leelanau stretches her legs south of the Narrows, practically running into Cedar and Traverse City, and her arms north past Leland all the way to Lake Michigan. 

Let’s grab drinks from Dick’s Pour House, fishing licenses from Bait Shop, and hit the water; we’re going to Lake Leelanau.   

Torch Lake Stats at a Glance:

  • Acres: 8,607 acres (including both North and South Lake Leelanau)
  • Max Depth: 121 feet (North) and 62 feet (South)
  • All-Sports: Yes
  • Location: Leelanau County
  • Closest Towns: Leland, Lake Leelanau, Cedar, Suttons Bay
  • Closest Larger City: Traverse City
  • Best Known For: The Narrows

A Brief History of Lake Leelanau

Lake Leelanau offers something for just about everyone. There’s fantastic fishing, boating, great places to eat and drink, and it’s easy to get here from just about anywhere. 

Before white settlers arrived in Northern Michigan, the Native Americans called Lake Leelanau “ke-ski-bi-ag” which means “narrow body of water”. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was credited for formally naming the region, regularly using the name “Leelanau” for a character in his books. 

Though Henry is often the one officially recognized for the naming of the region, historians have established that it was actually his wife Jane Johnson Schoolcraft who came up with the name. This is significant, because Jane was of Ojibwa descent and widely acknowledged as the first Native American literary writer; crafting poetry and prose in both Ojibwa and English. 

Jane Johnson Schoolcraft was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 2008.

How to Get to Lake Leelanau

Lake Leelanau is located in Leelanau County, about 10 miles northwest of Traverse City. It’s accessible by all major roadways, by boat via the Carp River, and by way of multiple public boat launches, the most popular being the one located in the middle of Lake Leelanau, known locally as The Narrows. 

Lake Leelanau Beach Options

Unlike many of the most sought after inland lakes in Northern Michigan, a large portion of the Lake Leelanau shoreline is either publicly owned or a part of the Leelanau Land Conservancy, protecting it from development. 

Some of the most popular public beaches on Lake Leelanau include Nedow’s Bay in Leland, East Leland Park at the north end of North Lake Leelanau, Fisher “Fudgie” Beach just south of Leland on M-22, and Schneider’s Beach just off of M-204.  

Owning, Buying, and Selling on Lake Leelanau

Lake Leelanau is home to a diverse mix of full-time permanent residents, vacation homes, and large tracts of vacant shoreline held in the Leelanau Conservancy. 

Though property here can be expensive, especially towards the south end of Lake Leelanau, typical sale prices of single-family homes here are relatively reasonable compared to places like Torch Lake and West Grand Traverse Bay.  

In 2019, there were 34 sales of single-family homes that had Lake Leelanau waterfront access. The average sale price for those homes was just over  $715,000, with the highest price being a little 2.375 million dollars for a gorgeous custom home featuring over 135 feet of pristine Lake Leelanau beachfront. 

Vacant property, on the other hand, tends to run expensive here no matter what you compare it against. In 2019, 11 vacant lots sold for an average of just over $350,000 a piece, the most expensive being a half-acre plot with 110 feet of private frontage on the north shore of the lake just south of the village of Leland for $750,000.


The Brick & Corbett Team is Here to Help

Interested in buying or selling a home on Lake Leelanau? The Brick & Corbett team can walk you through the process step-by-step, drawing on our decades of experience helping discerning homeowners with their next purchase or sale.

Considering a second home purchase or a vacation getaway? We specialize in making the second home purchase process smooth and easy. Reach out to the Brick & Corbett team today to find out how we can help you buy or sell on Lake Leelanau, or anywhere else in Northern Michigan. 

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