There are three other, lesser known and often overlooked bodies of water in our watershed. Let’s take a look at the first. Tucker Lake is about 15 acres wide and 15 feet deep, and is completely within the National Park’s boundaries. There are no riparians on this lake. It has one boat ramp that is managed by the National Park Service and has one outlet, namely, Tucker Creek. One nice aspect of this lake is that if you are on the lake in a canoe, row boat, or kayak, there is a commanding view of one of our most prominent glacial moraines—Miller Hill.
Historically, the land closest to the lake was used as a township dump and many residents in the early decades of the 1900s would take their trash to the lake. The dump has since been cleaned up by community members, including students from the Leelanau School. The National Park Service has monitored the site for hazardous waste.
The lake is considered eutrophic—rich in nutrients that support a dense plant population—and is in the advanced stages of “aging.” Some day in the next 200 years or so, it will cease to exist and gradually will turn into a swamp as it fills in from the bottom towards the surface.
The bottom of the lake is soft, brown, and full of organic material. Most of the surface of the lake is covered with lily pads in the summer, but in the spring and fall it is open water and plays host to migrating buffleheads, goldeneyes, mallards and wood ducks. It also is host to the red shouldered hawk, which can be heard screaming during courtship in the spring with the sound echoing off Miller Hill. They sound like bluejays on steroids!
The lake is surrounded by a natural shoreline and intact wetlands. Beaver, muskrats, raccoons and deer can be seen browsing on the vegetation on just about every visit year-round. The color of the water is the result of tannins from the decomposing shoreline plants. Fishing in the lake will produce bluegill, perch, rock
bass, northern pike, large-mouth bass, bullhead and pumpkinseeds. Spring is a fun time to visit to hear the male American toads collectively making loud trills as they call out to their mates.
During winter, the ice is rarely, if ever, safe for human travel. The decomposition of the aquatic plants and springs make the ice dangerous for walking on the thin ice – even during a cold winter. It is a very nice lake to visit from a nature observation perspective and it is picturesque in all seasons.