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White sand beaches and strikingly blue water to rival the Caribbean don't instantly call northwest Michigan to mind, but for Little Glen Lake it's true. Self-named one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Little Glen Lake and its sister lake, Big Glen Lake, are undisputedly some of the most beautiful lakes in the state.
Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake were carved by glacial erosion during the last ice age and were originally connected to Lake Michigan. Eventually, sand filled in the space between the lakes, creating a sandbar separating Lake Michigan from the Glen Lakes. That same sand also filled in part of Little Glen Lake. This smaller lake lies west of Big Glen Lake and covers 1,415 surface acres. Little Glen Lake is hydrologically the same as Big Glen Lake; originally, the two lakes were the same depth. Over time, however, sand filled in Little Glen Lake, so that its maximum depth today is 13 feet. The Glen Lakes are connected by a narrow channel and surrounded by pockets of forests and rolling sand dunes.
Both lakes feature sandy shores and spectacularly blue, crystal clear water. Access to the lakes is from a public boat launch on Little Glen Lake or from one of the many marinas. Alligator Hill pushes its nose into the northern side of Little Glen Lake and is a beautiful place to explore by canoe or kayak. With plenty of water to boat, swim and water-ski, the lake is also a fantastic place to fish. There are abundant populations of yellow perch, smallmouth bass, and northern pike along with both brown trout and lake trout.
The Glen Lakes are to the east of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore which was established in 1970. The dunes soar 110 feet above Lake Michigan, and the park preserves them and provides an opportunity to climb them. Including both the north and south Manitou Islands, the National Lakeshore also includes 31 miles of the shore of Lake Michigan. Passenger ferries provide access to the Manitou Islands and the lighthouse that still stands there. Visitors can climb the 100 foot tower for spectacular views of the Manitou Passage. On the southwest corner of the Island, visitors can explore the Giant Cedars and Shipwreck Hike. Passing through an old-growth white cedar forest known as the "Valley of the Giants," the trail leads to the 1960 shipwreck of the Liberian freighter, the Francisco Morazan.
A seven and a half mile long driving loop allows the less adventurous to enjoy the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Lumberman Pierce Stocking loved the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan. He planned the road in the 1960's and operated it until 1976. After his death in 1977 the road became part of the National Seashore and was renamed the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Open to traffic from April through November, the road offers spectacular views of the dunes, Lake Michigan and Manitou Islands and has an overlook looking down on Little Glen Lake.
Both the Port Oneida Historic Farm Tour and the reconstructed village of Glen Haven give visitors an opportunity to explore the rich history of Michigan's Great Lakes. Glen Haven, originally called Sleeping Bearville, was a steamboat stop operating from 1865 through 1931. It was a natural harbor for the steamships that traveled from Chicago to Buffalo, and today visitors can tour the restored general store, blacksmith shop and cannery. Glen Haven sits on the sandbar that separates Lake Michigan from Little Glen Lake.
Glen Arbor is the nearest town to Little Glen Lake. In addition to restaurants and shops, the town has a variety of accommodations. Vacation rentals on Little Glen Lake include cabins and waterfront homes. Lakefront real estate is also available for sale. Trails near the lake invite hiking, biking and horseback riding during warm months, and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling during winter months. Hunting is also nearby.
The Glen Lakes have the well-earned reputation as some of the most beautiful in the world. With its amazingly clear blue water and white sand shores, Little Glen Lake more than lives up to the self-proclaimed title. Add the lake's rich history, spectacular sand dunes and abundant fishing, and visitors will return time after time to this beautiful northwest Michigan lake.
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