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Surrounded by south west Michigan's Grape Country, Cedar Lake is a year round recreation destination. Spring and summer bring fishing, boating and swimming. During fall the leaves put on a show of ambers, golds and reds. Ice huts pop up on the lake in the winter, and ice fishing starts in earnest. Throughout the year, regardless of the season, two things remain constant - the quiet sparkling water of Cedar Lake and the area's exceptional wine.
Cedar Lake, also known a Big Cedar Lake, covers 269 acres in Porter Township in southeast Van Buren County. It is a natural lake with a maximum depth of 84 feet; it connects to a marshland to the northwest and to Little Cedar Lake to the southwest. Together with the marsh and Little Cedar Lake, the combined surface acreage approaches 500 acres.
Both Big Cedar Lake and Little Cedar Lake are popular with locals for their pan fish. Bluegill, largemouth bass and perch are abundant, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources periodically stocks the lakes with walleye and rainbow trout. By early January the ice is usually stable on Cedar Lake, and the locals arrive to ice fish. The long finger on the northwest side of the lake is a good place to find fish, as is the bay on the southeast side.
Public access to Cedar Lake is from a hard-surfaced boat ramp. Depths vary, however, so boaters should be aware when launching and retrieving their boats. Parking and restroom facilities are available at the launch site, and there are boat rentals nearby. Small engines and hand-powered craft are appropriate for Little Cedar Lake. Big Cedar Lake is a full recreation lake with enough water for boating and waterskiing. Its sand beaches also make it popular with swimmers.
Cedar Lake is 15 minutes south of Paw Paw between the towns of Lawton to the north and Marcellus to the south. There are lakefront vacation rentals and real estate available for sale, including waterfront lots on both Little Cedar Lake and Big Cedar Lake. The lake is in Paw Paw's Grape Country, and grapes are the area's primary agriculture crop. Several vineyards and wineries are scattered across the area, and wine tasting is a fantastic way to spend a rainy day - or any day- at the lake. The region's grapes are also used to make juice and jelly. The city of Paw Paw was named after the fruit of the same name that used to grow along the Paw Paw River. The paw paw tastes like tropical fruit similar to a mango and banana cross, but grows wild in the northern climate of Michigan.
Van Buren is a county full of lakes, and both Big Cedar Lake and Little Cedar Lake are great examples of southwest Michigan lakes. With its clean, productive water and abundant fish populations, Cedar Lake is sure to delight anglers year round. Add the area's beautiful rolling hills and its locally made wine, and Cedar Lake becomes a destination to return to again and again.
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