Huron river chain of lakes
The chain is a watershed of the Huron River and covers northern Washtenaw County and southern Livingston County in Michigan. Big Portage, Little Portage, Base Line, Zukey, Strawberry, Whitewood and Gallagher can all be navigated by normal watercraft, however, Ore and Tamarack are only accessible by small watercraft. The lakes are connected by no-wake canals and are mainly navigated by order of Little Portage, Big Portage, Baseline, Whitewood, Gallagher, Strawberry, and Zukey. Big Portage is 680 acres (2.8 km2) with the deepest point at 84 feet (26 m), making it the largest lake on the chain. Strawberry Lake is the second largest at 257 acres (1.04 km2) with its deepest point at 64 feet (20 m).
Many people live year round on the lakes, however there are numerous summer cottages as well that are owned mainly by Southeastern Michigan residents and are frequented most on weekends. There is only one public marina on the chain that you can receive gas fill-up, Klaves Marina on Big Portage. There is also a Yacht Club on Big Portage that offers dining to the public. The lakes are known for fishing, some of the fish you can find in the chain are Walleye, Bass, Northern Pike, Yellow Perch and Bluegill. In order to navigate the lakes you must have a boating license and your boat must also be registered. You can obtain the correct license through Michigan Secretary of State. You must also obtain fishing licenses through Michigan Department of Natural Resources. There are areas on the chain where you can dock your boat and receive take out food. Zukey Lake Tavern located on Zukey Lake has the widest array of menu items, followed by Riverside Pizza on Portage. If you dock at Riverside, you can also access the trading post to purchase various food, drink, and fishing items. One of the most populated areas of the chain in the summer is on the sandbar on Zukey Lake right before the connection to Strawberry Lake.
During the 18th century French fur traders traveled from Lake Erie to Big Portage by way of the Huron River. The Portage Yacht Club was the Newport Beach Club in the 1950s and attracted many teenagers and young adults to Baseline Lake. Zukey Lake Tavern has been servicing the chain of lakes since the 1930s when the original owners, the Girard brothers, would boat up and down the lakes, picking up customers to take to the tavern. Today, many of the residents on the lakes own some form of watercraft and travel by way of the water up to the tavern to get food or to dock up for a dinner inside or on the patio. Big Portage puts on a fireworks display every 4 July attracting a lot of boaters to watch the display from the water.
- "Klave's Marina, JC Pontoons, Avalon Pontoons, Mercury Outboards, Pontoon Boat Sales and Rentals, Stand Up Paddleboard Sales". klavesmarina.com. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
- Boating World; v. 22 no. 170 (June 2001) pp. 46-8
- "History". zukeylaketavern.com. Retrieved 2014-04-05.