Lake Facts & History

Lake Facts

Burt Lake
Burt Lake is a 17,120 acres lake in Cheboygan County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The western shore of the lake is on the boundary with Emmet County. The lake is named after William Austin Burt, see history below.

The lake is approximately 10 miles long from north to south, about 5 miles at its widest, has 35 miles of shoreline, and 73 feet at its deepest. It’s clear, clean waters are the result of many springs and flow- through from several rivers.

Major inflows to the lake are the Maple River, which connects with nearby Douglas Lake, the Crooked River, which connects with nearby Crooked Lake, the Sturgeon River which enters the lake near the point where the Indian River flows out of the lake into nearby Mullett Lake and the Little Carp River which enters on the northern end of the lake.

Burt lake is part of the Inland Waterway, a 38 mile long series of rivers and lakes across the northern tip of the lower peninsula of Michigan and home to 900 residents.

Burt Lake is renowned for its Lake Sturgeon population, which boasts the record for the largest sturgeon ever caught in the USA. Additionally, the southern shore of the lake is home to Burt Lake State Park, while YMCA Camp Al-Gon-Quian is situated on the southwest shore.


Vintage Boat on Burt Lake

In the beginning, it was called Chaboiganing, or ”Passing through” in the native language. As part of the inland water route between Lake Huron and Little Traverse Bay, it’s been used for centuries. First by the native peoples, then the French trappers, followed by lumbermen and summer residents seeking relief from the heat and crowds downstate and around the Midwest.

In the 1830’s the area was surveyed as part of a massive program to establish boundaries and section lines for Michigan and Wisconsin. The head surveyor was William A. Burt, for whom the lake was named. Burt was primarily known for being a master surveyor and inventor of the solar compass, a device still used today, Burt’s invention solved a big problem for surveyors in the mineral-rich Upper Peninsula since it was unaffected by ore deposits, unlike the traditional magnetic compasses of the day.

The BLPA’s purpose is to help preserve Burt Lake for future generations, whether you make it your home or you’re just “Passing through.”

To learn more, visit the Inland Waterway Museum, Little Traverse History Museum, Cheboygan History Center, Mackinac Parks History.