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Northern Michigan | Water Wonderland: Torch Lake

You’ve heard the legends. Tales of mega-mansions, wild sandbar parties, and water so clear it’s often mistaken for the Caribbean. Maybe you’ve even parked the boat out in the shallows in the heat of the summer and walked by rafts of dozens of boats. Yes, Torch Lake is a Michigan water heavyweight, but do you know the whole story? 

Here’s everything you need to know about Torch Lake, including the must-have real estate facts if you’ve ever considered buying or selling there. 

Grab the sunscreen and some money for the burger barge, let’s go to Torch. 

Torch Lake Stats at a Glance:

  • Acres: 18,770 (Michigan’s second-largest inland lake)
  • Average Depth: 111 feet
  • All-Sports: Yes
  • Location: Antrim County
  • Closest Towns: Alden, Eastport, Torch Lake
  • Closest Larger City: Traverse City
  • Best Known For: The Sandbar

A Brief History of Torch Lake

Torch Lake has long been a destination for locals and visitors alike, thanks to its incredibly clear water, typically mild temperatures, and great options for activities. Stretching out to nearly 19 miles, Torch Lake is Michigan’s longest inland lake; a shape that many assume is where its name comes from (owing to the long, flame-like shape). 

Rather, the name is derived from the Ojibwa word Was-wa-gon-ong, meaning “Place of the Torches”, a nod to the Native American practice of using torches at night to attract fish so they could be more easily speared or netted. Early Michigan settlers actually referred to the lake as “Torch Light Lake” for many years before the “Light” portion of the name was eventually dropped. 

How to Get to Torch Lake

Torch Lake is located in Antrim County, about 17 miles northeast of Traverse City. If you’re bringing a boat, there are multiple public access points on the lake, most notably on the northwest end at Torch Lake Day Park, as well as at the south end of the lake, just a stone’s throw away from the famous Torch Lake sandbar. 

But, putting in at a boat launch on Torch Lake itself isn’t the only way to get to the sandbar, and probably not nearly the most fun. Torch Lake is part of the locally referred to “Chain of Lakes”; a watershed that includes Six Mile Lake, Intermediate Lake, Lake Bellaire, the Grass River, Clam Lake, Clam River, Torch River, Lake Skegemog, and Elk Lake. 

Any one of these bodies of water provides eventual passage to Torch Lake, and many locals will start on one of the smaller connected lakes and end up on Torch by the end of the day. 

Torch Lake Beach Options

Though a lot of the most beautiful shoreline on Torch Lake is privately owned, there are a couple of notable beaches that locals and visitors should check out if they’re in the mood to get in the water out in Antrim County. 

The first is at the aforementioned Torch Lake Day Park; a great spot with a couple of picnic pavilions, a playground, public restrooms, and just about everything you need to be comfortable during a day at the beach. 

There are other small public beaches here and there, but the other one we’re going to suggest here is a small beach next to the must-visit Dockside restaurant where the Clam River runs into Torch Lake. This is a fun spot, but honestly, the food and drinks at Dockside is so good, it’s worth making a visit to this beach just so you can grab lunch from Dockside too. 

Owning, Buying, and Selling on Torch Lake

Torch Lake is home to a number of celebrity retreats. At one point, Kid Rock, Eminem, Michael Moore, Ted Nugent, and others. 

Though Torch Lake is a favorite spot for the rich and famous, you don’t have to be a celebrity to own a home here. Homes and property on Torch Lake are much sought after, it is one of the most popular markets in Northern Michigan every year. 

In 2019, there were 51 sales of single-family homes that had Torch Lake waterfront access. The average sale price for those homes was $638,721, with the highest price being a little over 2 million dollars for a cozy little 7200 square foot, six-bedroom, six-bath home on the southeast side of the lake. 13 vacant lots also sold in 2019 for an average of just under $159,000 a piece, the most expensive being a nearly two-acre plot with 113 feet of private frontage on the east side of the lake for $580,000. 

The Brick & Corbett Team is Here to Help

Interested in buying or selling a home on Torch Lake? 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 Torch Lake, or anywhere else in Northern Michigan. 

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