Walloon Lake has been called “The Most Desirable Lake in Michigan”. It is a haven for families with some enjoying as many as seven generations on Walloon. The watershed is located in Bay, Evangeline, and Melrose townships of Charlevoix County; and Bear Creek and Resort Townships of Emmet County. The lake has a relatively a small watershed (22,650 acres) compared to its lake surface area (4,270 acres). Five percent of the Walloon Lake Watershed is classified as wetlands. Of particular importance is the North Arm’s wetland complex where over 5,000 acres of the land drain through the wetlands before reaching the waters of the North Arm.
Walloon Lake is primarily fed by groundwater (53%) and only has a few small inlet creeks, Schoof’s Creek and Fineout. Walloon Lake is characterized as an oligotrophic lake. It has low plant growth and algae, high water clarity, and is generally cold and deep. The lake supports populations of walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, rock bass, perch, and stocked rainbow and lake trout. Walloon Lake is located within the Little Traverse Bay Watershed and empties into Lake Michigan via the Bear River. The Bear River which ends in Lake Michigan next to the Petoskey city hall draws from its source Walloon Lake which is about 100 feet higher than Lake Michigan. Walloon Lake is considered an outstanding ecological, aesthetic, and recreational resource. Rolling glacial terrain surrounds its deep waters, including its five distinct depressions or basins.
Foot – 94 ft.
Mud Lake – 14 ft.
West Arm – 100 ft.
North Arm – 52 ft.
Wildwood – 80 ft.
Walloon Lake is a wonderful boating and swimming lake as the water temperature is usually quite a bit warmer than it’s colder neighbor Lake Michigan.
Today, the village boasts about 30 businesses, roughly half of them seasonal. The new Hotel Walloon , a three-story year-round waterfront inn designed as homage to its Progressive Era predecessor. Across from the hotel stands a pair of historic lakefront cottages that were saved from the wreckers and repurposed as retail storefronts. Those house an antique shop and a jewelry design studio. Next door, a renovated commercial building houses professional offices and an art gallery. Next to the hotel there is year-round upscale dining and shops overlooking the lakeshore with a 60-slip marina and watersports retailer.
Across from the village, there is a small plaza of 50-square-foot sheds that house artisans selling crafts, apparel, home goods and souvenirs. Clustered together next to a new bakery, the shops have become a mini destination on their own.
The village of Walloon Lake, located at the “foot” of its paint splatter-shaped namesake, is reclaiming its historic status as a destination getaway. When the Grand Rapids & Indiana railroad brought visitors around the turn-of-the-century, the lake was called “Bear Lake,” derived from the Native American name Muhqua Neblis, meaning “bear water.” The village was named Talcott until it was changed to Walloon Lake in 1900, a time when the community numbered about 300 and was frequented by vacationers from urban centers like Chicago, Detroit and Grand Rapids. By 1905, the village boasted multiple hotels and stores, a depot, boat livery, stables, small manufacturers and more.
The lake is closely associated with literary giant Ernest Hemingway, whose family bought a cottage on the lake named Windemere. Hemingway, who spent his boyhood years on Walloon, used the area as setting for a series of short stories featuring alter ego character Nick Adams. Hemingway’s nephew’s family still lives in the area and owns the original Cottage on Walloon Lake.