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Wetzel Lake Clay Trail

One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to ride my bike out to Wetzel Lake with a friend to go swimming. The lake is only about four miles from town. In those days, there was a dock and you could run like mad and jump off the end and see how far you could go underwater before coming up for air.

I remember certain days we had the whole lake to ourselves, probably cloudy or a little cold summer days. Like a handful of lakes around Mancelona (Green Lake comes to mind), it is undeveloped; there are no houses on its shores (and let's hope it stays that way).

One day we decided to walk the clay trail. Along the northern side of the lake there is a "clay trail," a thin strip of clay where the water averages a depth of about four feet, and that winds its way through the mucky, reedy, swampy part of the lake. It struck me as kinda magical, to be able to walk and swim in shallow water around the perimeter of the lake without having to step in the muck.

I'm actually surprised that I explored that clay trail only once. After my dad retired, he bought himself a rowboat and would fish at Wetzel Lake. (Wetzel Lake is too small for boats with motors.) I remember I went with him once and we rowed over the clay trail. I don't think we caught anything big enough to keep that day.

I wonder if the kids today explore the clay trail like we did some 35 years ago. I wonder also if the lake level is more or less the same.

Wetzel Lake


Wetzel Lake

I never knew that was called the "clay trail."

These days the water level is considerably lower; check it out in google earth. I suspect that the clay trail is dry ground; by appearances Wetzel Lake is now three separate bodies (?) of water.

I remember Dad taking Cory out in the rowboat to fish when Cory was quite young, maybe 3 or 4. I was so worried, just being a protective mom I guess. Never said anything about it. Cory called him "poppie." Wonder whether he remembers that.

Re: Wetzel Lake

I looked at those satellite images, and indeed it looked like the lake level was way down. I was wondering if maybe, from that altitude, shallow water looks like dry land. I half-heartedly googled "Michigan lake levels" and learned that the Great Lakes have higher levels, but I never made it to the interior lakes. You're right though, it looks like Wetzel is now one lake and two ponds.

June 2019



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