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11 Incredible Recreational Lakes near Grand Rapids, MI

Like many places in Michigan, the lakes around Grand Rapids offer a wide selection of recreational activities, from swimming and fishing to waterskiing and camping. Come wintertime, these lakes become hubs for winter sports, too.
ItIsWild.com: Best Lakes near Grand Rapids MI

Although Lake Michigan is less than 30 miles away, Grand Rapids has plenty of alternatives to it. The lakes in this area include reservoirs, nature reserve ponds, and city park lakes.  

All of the options on the list are less than an hour away, and all have public access. 

Some choices, like Morrison Lake and Pickerel Lake, are tranquil fishing holes free from crowds. But most are busy recreation hubs buzzing with water activities in summer.

During winter, many lakes offer ice fishing, ice boating, cross-country skiing, and many more cold weather activities.

Check out what Grand Rapids has to offer!

Lakes near Grand Rapids:

  1. Reeds Lake
  2. Millennium Park Lakes
  3. Pickerel Lake
  4. Gun Lake
  5. Wabasis Lake
  6. Lake Macatawa
  7. Myers Lake
  8. Crockery Lake
  9. Morrison Lake
  10. Muskegon Lake
  11. Hardy Dam Pond
Lakes near Grand Rapids Michigan Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Reeds Lake

Reeds Lake in Grand Rapids
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Reeds Lake
  • Distance from Grand Rapids: 4 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Hiking, Picnics, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing

Reeds Lake is a popular 283-acre lake in East Grand Rapids. Now mostly surrounded by businesses and private residences, this lake was the site of Ramona Park between 1897 and 1955. 

The Grand Rapids Street Railway Company operated this amusement park, one that had roller coasters, a miniature railway, and a passenger steamer named Ramona that took people around the lake. 

Although this attraction has disappeared, waterfront activities remain popular at Reeds Lake. Public access areas to the west and northwest of the lake promote year-round recreation. 

Named in honor of a longtime city mayor, John Collins Park has picnic tables, a boat launch and fishing dock, and a walking path. 

To the northwest, Waterfront Park opened in the early 21st century as an 11-acre wetland and woodland, with paths and a fishing dock. The adjacent Hodenpyl Woods offers a small nature preserve at the lake’s northernmost point. 

Those who fish in this East Grand Rapids lake will notice trumpeter swans and great blue herons, along with migratory birds. Commonly caught fish include bass, bluegill, pike, and sunfish. 

2. Millennium Park Lakes

grand rapids millennium park
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Millennium Park
  • Distance from Grand Rapids: 7 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Picnics, Winter Sports

Located southwest of downtown Grand Rapids, Millennium Park is an extensive urban park on nearly 1,500 acres of land reclaimed from gravel pits and gypsum mines. 

Opened in July 2004, this lush park offers swimming in a 100-acre artificial lake, a six-acre beach, and numerous trails and areas for wildlife and nature preservation. 

One of the largest urban parks in the nation, the water, wetlands, and rolling terrain at this site offer year-round outdoor recreation access.

Nearly twice the size of Central Park in New York City, this site hugging the northern bank of the Grand River offers everything from summertime swimming to wintertime cross-country skiing. 

Although ice fishing is not permitted, those who cast their lines during warmer parts of the year will find panfish, bass, and an occasional northern pike. 

3. Pickerel Lake

pickerel lake michigan
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Pickerel Lake
  • Distance from Grand Rapids: 18 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Hiking, Picnics, Birdwatching, Photography, Winter Sports

A little more than 15 miles northeast of downtown, Pickerel Lake is a great place to escape the city for fishing or observing wildlife. 

This lake of nearly 80 acres has forests and undeveloped areas surrounding it, offering visitors an opportunity to enjoy reconnecting with nature without having lots of distractions. 

The lake falls within the boundaries of Pickerel Lake Park, and is also known as the Fred Meijer Nature Preserve.

Pickerel Lake and the surrounding nature preserve have an ideal combination of wetlands, valleys, forest hills, and sandy wooded acres. 

This year-round destination attracts people who enjoy fishing and traveling along the park’s more than four miles of meandering and interconnected trails. 

A 900-foot section of the boardwalk crosses the lake, offering excellent views. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular winter activities. 

The cool, clear water welcomes various birds posing for photographers. Those who cast a line in this lake will find pickerel, crappie, bluegill, sunfish, and rainbow trout. 

4. Gun Lake

  • Website: Gun Lake
  • Distance from Grand Rapids: 34 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Winter Sports

A little more than 30 miles south-southwest of the heart of Grand Rapids, Gun Lake has a surface area of more than 2,680 acres and a reputation as a great recreation destination. 

Along the reservoir’s west side, Gun Lake Park has a boat launch, an ADA-accessible dock, picnic facilities, a playground, and beach access. This park and a small section of the western edge of the lake fall within Allegan County, with most of the lake located within Barry County.

Along the northern and eastern portions of Gun Lake, the 5,200-acre Yankee Springs State Recreation Area offers a variety of activities that span from horseback riding to cross-country skiing. 

With 12 miles of mountain bike trails, 30 miles for hiking, and nine lakes, Yankee Springs provides many outdoor activities throughout the year. Camping is available at Gun Lake and nearby Deep Lake. The Gun Lake Protective Association has advocated for the lake since the group was created in 1905. 

A concrete dam to impound and expand the lake went into service in 1951 on the lake’s south end, controlling flow from the lake into the Gun River and the Kalamazoo River. 

A culvert connecting Gun Lake to nearby Long Lake is a bonus for anglers on watercraft. Fish in this lake and others at Yankee Springs include bullhead, crappie, bluegill, bass, sunfish, perch, walleye, and muskellunge.

5. Wabasis Lake

Wabasis Lake
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Website: Wabasis Lake
  • Distance from Grand Rapids: 25 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Winter Sports

Wabasis Lake, a drive 25 miles northeast of the city, spans more than 418 acres and reaches 60 feet in depth. 

Wabasis Lake Park provides access to the lake at a boat launch along the western end and also offers picnic areas, a public beach, trails, a playground, and other amenities in this scenic, hilly area. 

A campsite is also available, along with a seasonal rental facility for paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, and rowboats. 

Park visitors often remark about how the Wabasis Lake Park has a feel similar to parks in northern areas of Michigan. 

Whether enjoying trails in the summer or sledding in the winter, those who come to this park appreciate the shoreline views. 

Commonly caught fish in Wabasis Lake include black crappie, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, bluegill, and pike. 

6. Lake Macatawa

Lake Macatawa
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Macatawa
  • Distance from Grand Rapids: 32 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Hiking, Camping, Picnics, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Winter Sports

Lake Macatawa is the name given to the Macatawa River as it widens, a little more than 35 miles southwest of Grand Rapids, before flowing into Lake Michigan. 

This 1,700-acre area of water, branded as Lake Macatawa, is divided into Pine Creek Bay, where the river first opens, and Big Bay, where it approaches Lake Michigan. 

Holland State Park touches both Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan. Known for the “Big Red Lighthouse,” great sunsets, and sandy beaches, this park has campgrounds on both lakes, a boat launch, and trails. 

The 21-acre Howard B. Dunton Park offers boardwalks, picnic areas, a boat launch, and playgrounds at a park in Holland Charter Township. 

Once a basket factory, the City of Holland’s 19-acre Kollen Park/Heinz Waterfront Walkway was donated to the city in 1921 as a lakefront park space. Van Bragt Park became a publicly owned tulip-growing area in 1934.

Those casting lines will find chinook salmon, brown trout, bluegill, muskellunge, walleye, perch, and pike.

7. Myers Lake

SUP and kayak on a lake
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Myers Lake
  • Distance from Grand Rapids: 20 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

Myers Lake is 15 miles north-northeast of central Grand Rapids. A narrow opening connects Myers Lake to the south with Little Myers Lake. At this spot, Kent County’s Myers Lake Park has become a popular summertime venue. 

Activities at this park include swimming, picnicking, and fishing. Crowds congregate at this small county park to enjoy the area’s popular beach.

Those who bank fish or launch their car-top vessel into the 131 acres of water at Myers Lake will find largemouth bass, rock bass, bluegill, and northern pike. Large crappies and pumpkinseed sunfish have been caught here as well. 

8. Crockery Lake

Golden Spring on a lake in michigan
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Crockery Lake
  • Distance from Grand Rapids: 23 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

A journey over 20 miles north-northwest of the heart of the city offers an opportunity to visit Crockery Lake. Located in Chester Township, this 106-acre lake has inlet sources and also gets some of its water from underground springs. 

In the early 1800s, a Native American village existed on the lake’s southern shore. By the 1940s, a few seasonal vacation cottages were built near the lake, with permanent, year-round residences replacing them by the 1970s. 

A small public access site exists on the south portion of the lake, just off Van Dyke Street. On the lake’s northeastern corner, Ottawa County purchased a tract of land and opened Grose Park in 1964. This 40-acre park includes a fishing dock, trails, sports fields, picnic sites, and a playground. 

The lake level was stabilized when a small outlet dam was built in 1976. Today, anglers who visit this lake will find ample bluegill, bass, northern pike, and yellow perch. 

9. Morrison Lake

  • Website: Morrison Lake
  • Distance from Grand Rapids: 29 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding

Located east of the city, Morrison Lake is a perfect destination for no-nonsense anglers who prefer lake access without crowds or lots of amenities. 

Although this 325-acre reservoir in Ionia County has residences along some of the shoreline, there is no extensive county or state park to attract large crowds, only a simple boat launch on the north side of the lake.

Fishing is simple here. Species found in Morrison Lake include largemouth bass, bluegill, perch, walleye, northern pike, pumpkinseed sunfish, crappie, and the occasional catfish. 

Other than casting a line, the biggest nearby ‘attraction’ is Walter RC Park, a place where those who fly radio-controlled hobby aircraft come together to fly their model airplanes. 

10. Muskegon Lake

muskegon lake
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Muskegon Lake
  • Distance from Grand Rapids: 46 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Winter Sports

Muskegon Lake is located 45 miles northwest in the cities of Muskegon and North Muskegon. This 4,150-acre lake is an expanded portion of the Muskegon River with a 12-mile harbor area where this body of water flows into Lake Michigan, marking the endpoint of the state’s second-longest river. 

Once the site of timber harvests that were floated downriver into the bay, the over 40 sawmills that previously dotted the landscape near Muskegon Lake gave way to other businesses.

A variety of public and private boat launch facilities and marinas provide lake access. Muskegon State Park offers shoreline access to both Lake Muskegon and Lake Michigan, with an expansive beach area and forested dunes. 

Salmon, steelhead, trout, and perch are found at this year-round park, a popular place for ice boating during winter. The state record for a freshwater drum, a fish of 28.61 lbs., was caught in Muskegon Lake in 2015.

11. Hardy Dam Pond

Boat Party on a lake
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Hardy Dam Pond
  • Distance from Grand Rapids: 42 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing

Forty miles north of Grand Rapids, Hardy Dam Pond is an upriver impoundment of the Muskegon River. Opened in 1931, the Hardy Dam created a 4,000-acre reservoir in an area once called “the Oxbow.”

Similar to other dammed areas of the river, including Rogers Dam Pond further upriver and Croton Dam Pond immediately below, these impoundments allowed an electric utility to generate hydroelectric power from waters flowing through the Muskegon River.

The Hardy Dam Pond is a reservoir with more than 50 miles of shoreline and excellent fishing potential. Considered eastern North America’s largest earthen dam at the time of its construction, Hardy Dam provides hydroelectric power to the area. 

A variety of parks surround this lake, offering boat launches, campgrounds, beaches, and over 10 miles of hiking and biking trails. Big Prairie Parks and Newaygo State Park are located near the dam.

Boaters and bank fishers cast their lines in search of bluegill, trout, bass, walleye, and perch. 

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