The small lake below is North Bar Lake. The name describes how the lake formed: it is ponded behind a sand bar. At times, the sand bar builds up and separates North Bar Lake from Lake Michigan. At other times, a small connecting channel exists between the two lakes. North Bar Lake occupies part of a former bay on Lake Michigan. This ancient bay was flanked by headlands on both sides: Empire Bluffs on the south and Sleeping Bear Bluffs on the north. Shorelines have a natural tendency to become straighter with time. Wave action focuses on the headlands and wears them back, while shoreline currents carry sediment to the quiet bays and fill them in. Deeper parts of the bay are often left as lakes when sand fills in the shallower parts. The same process that formed North Bar Lake also formed many of the other lakes in northern Michigan: Glen, Crystal, Elk and Torch Lakes, for example.
There is a nice picnic area at the North Bar Lake Overlook stop on the Pierce Stocking Drive.
North Bar Lake is a popular swimming area during the summer. The small lake is warmer than Lake Michigan for those too timid to swim in the "Big Lake". But its proximity to Lake Michigan gives you the option of cooling off in the waves or walking the beach for miles. From this spot, you can easily walk to the base of the bluffs just to the north. Also, the little outlet creek that connects North Bar to Lake MI is fun for the kids to play in.
Last updated: April 10, 2015