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Long a recreational playground in southeast Michigan, Pontiac Lake never fails to enchant visitors. The lake was created in 1927 when the state built a dam across the Huron River to enlarge small Lime Lake. Pontiac Lake was planned from the beginning to provide water recreation to residents in the Pontiac area. Only seven miles from downtown Pontiac, the lake soon was providing swimming, fishing and boating enjoyment for the families of an increasing number of workers in the new auto industry. Cottages were soon built along the main shoreline and on the several islands and peninsulas gracing the lake. The state wisely retained a mile of frontage along the northern shoreline where public recreational facilities could be provided. Before long, Pontiac Lake had something to offer nearly everyone. The recreational opportunities only continue to improve as the years go by.
The lake offers both boating and fishing opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Two public boat launches at the Pontiac Lake Recreational Area beach allow for launching smaller power boats and personal watercraft, along with fishing boats. Large expanses of water are available for power boating, sailing, jet skiing, tubing, wakeboarding and rowing. Northern pike, perch, bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, sunfish, catfish, rock bass and walleye are all caught. As the lake averages only five feet in depth, fish habitat is excellent with plenty of weed cover. In winter, ice fishermen enjoy the coves and channels, while snowmobiles skate across the lake and onto the trails of the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area.
Pontiac Lake is close to everything. The Oakland County International Airport is nearby, as are all sorts of shopping and amusement venues. Many lakeshore cottages have evolved into full-fledged year-round homes within an established lake community. Homes on the islands are connected to the main shoreline via causeways, creating a system of coves and channels ideal for pontooning and paddling. Most homes have private docks and swimming areas for the enjoyment of children and adults alike. The long-established lakefront community works with the Pontiac Lake Property Owners Association to keep the lake clean, control weed growth, helps pay for regular marine control, and provides recreational events for the neighborhoods to socialize. A small marina along the southern shoreline near the dam provides limited rental slips, performs boat repairs and sells necessary boating accessories. Lucky vacationers sometimes find rental cottages to enjoy for a week or even the entire summer.
Even with all of this development, the State of Michigan has increased its holdings along the north shore and the wetlands at the west end of the lake until the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area now encompasses 3,745 acres of public land. The Recreation Area includes a spacious sandy beach with bath house, picnic area, rest rooms, fishing pier and two boat launch facilities. A separate modern campground includes 170 campsites with electrical connections, modern restrooms and another playground. A second campground is reserved for horse-camping; these rustic sites adjoin the 17 miles of horseback riding trails within the Recreation Area. A riding stable nearby allows day visitors to enjoy the trails from horseback.
A shooting range, archery range and separate radio-controlled aircraft field allow the public to engage in their favored hobbies. A mountain biking trail covers 11 miles of varied terrain. In winter the trails are used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Hunting in season is allowed in specified areas where hunters stalk rabbit, squirrel, grouse, woodcock, duck, geese, raccoon and deer. These animals are present year-round, along with a variety of birds and create excellent wildlife watching opportunities. Pontiac Lake Recreation Area participates in the State Park Explorer program, providing nature education to both children and adults. Some of these programs are hosted by the Friends of Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, a local service group.
One of the most popular and best-known events held at Pontiac Lake each year is the American Power Boat Association's World Championship Race, called 'Quake on the Lake'. This race brings boats and spectators from all over the world to observe the heart-stopping action as the high-performance racing boats speed the length of the lake in competition. The event includes far more than water-based action, however, as the weekend includes concerts by well-known artists, festival foods and fun for all attendees. The event has been held at Pontiac Lake annually since 2000 and seems to get more popular every year. For those who enjoy land-based racing, a BMX Racing track nearby offers racing events throughout the summer. In winter, a nearby ski hill provides downhill skiing, sledding and fun in the snow.
Those looking for alternate activities in the Pontiac Lake area will find they are only 15 miles from Pontiac Silverdome. Dearborn's Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, Detroit's convention facilities, the newly-refurbished Belle Isle Aquarium, and the Detroit Zoo are all less than an hour away. The Detroit Institute of Arts is considered one of the best collections in the United States and features everything from Monet to mummies. Nearby are the Detroit Historical Museum, the Detroit Science Center and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Of particular interest to automotive buffs, the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex is located at the former Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, birthplace of the Model T. The plant is well preserved and looks virtually the same as its original 1904 appearance. It has the unique distinction as being the only exhibition of a factory from Detroit's early automotive production history that is open to visitors.
With all this going on nearby, vacationers will want to spend an extra week just exploring the wealth of historical information in the area. Lucky visitors often can find rental cottages or private homes along the lakeshore. Nearby, several small motels and larger chain hotels can also provide lodgings. For those who want to make their enjoyment of Pontiac Lake permanent, real estate is usually available either along the shore or very close by. So, whether you're planning to visit southeastern Michigan in the near future, or already live in the state and are looking at a 'stay-cation' this year, come to Pontiac Lake.
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