Sanford Lake

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Sanford Lake
Location Sanford, Midland County, Michigan
Coordinates 43°42′N 84°23′W / 43.700°N 84.383°W / 43.700; -84.383Coordinates: 43°42′N 84°23′W / 43.700°N 84.383°W / 43.700; -84.383
Type Reservoir
Primary inflows Tittabawassee River
Primary outflows Tittabawassee River
Catchment area 20,971 acres (8,487 ha)
First flooded 1925 (1925)
Max. lengthft (1.8 m)
Max. width 0.5 mi (0.80 km)
Surface area 1,429 acres (578 ha)
Average depth 9.3 ft (2.8 m)
Max. depth 26 ft (7.9 m)
Water volume 13,899 acre⋅ft (17,144,000 m3)
Shore length1 34.5 mi (55.5 km)
Surface elevation 631 ft (192 m)
Frozen Winter
Settlements Sanford
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Sanford Lake is a man-made reservoir located in Midland County, Michigan. It was formed by the damming of the Tittabawassee River near the town of Sanford, Michigan. The dam is owned and operated by Boyce Hydro,LLC. The main body of the lake stretches for about 6 miles (9.7 km) north of the dam, but the water remains deep enough for small boat navigation up past the town of Edenville, Michigan ten miles (16 km) north of the dam. The lake is slightly over half a mile wide at its widest point. A survey by the Michigan DNR measured the main body of the lake at 1,250 acres (5.1 km2). According to the Sanford Lake Improvement Board website maintained by Midland County, the lake has a surface area of 1,499 acres (6.07 km2) and a shoreline length of 34.5 miles (55.5 km).

Tourism and public access[edit]

Sanford Lake is not a well-known tourist attraction but is a popular recreation spot for the county and surrounding counties. There are two public accesses to the lake and many private community access points. Weekends in the summer find the lake filled with many pontoon boats, personal watercraft, sport fisherman, and swimmers.

Sanford Lake Park is located on the west side of the lake near the dam. This park, maintained by Midland County, has boat ramps, a sandy beach area with volleyball and swimming, pull-up parking for boats and jet-skis, picnic pavilions, playgrounds and a concession stand (sometimes). The beach is typically clean and well-groomed. Swimmers of all ages enjoy the water and sandy bottom beach. Access can be made by car for an entry fee or by boat.

Sanford Lake Park


The shoreline is mostly developed with single-family homes. Many of these homes are located in small neighborhood communities (Verity Shores, Francis Shores, et al.) which maintain private boat launch sites, picnic areas and lake access for non-lakefront property owners. The area of the lake further north is lined with some wetlands and wilderness areas mixed with housing. There is one small marina on the east shore of the lake (Sanford Lake Marina) which has dockside gas, bait, tackle and snacks plus fundraising for breast cancer research. Sanford Lake features two restaurants, Sanford Lake Bar and Grill, a full-service restaurant, brewpub and bar that maintains a small dock and is a short walk up the bank on the west shore; and Little Italy, an authentic Italian bistro which offers box lunches for boaters, who may use the Pineview Grocery dock.

Up the river on Sanford Lake

Water quality[edit]

The water quality of the lake is good. As a reservoir with a predominantly muddy bottom, turbidity is a bit higher than the average natural lake in Michigan. The introduction of Zebra mussels in the 1990s has significantly improved water clarity, but this has led to an explosion of weed growth throughout the shallow portions of the lake. Fertilizers from the surrounding homes and agricultural areas have undoubtedly contributed to this growth. Significant weed control programs have been attempted over recent years with varying degrees of success. The lake, in any case, remains enjoyable for sports and swimming.

Sanford Lake Catfish Derby[edit]

Third weekend of August. Family fun day fishing on Sanford Lake for Catfish. For mor information visit the Sanford Lake Catfish Derby Website


Sanford Lake has a wide range of Michigan species: sunfish, bluegill, rock bass, perch, calicos, northern pike, crappie, catfish, walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, musky, suckers catostomidae, and carp. The DNR stocked 65,000 walleye off the Sanford Lake Marina ramp in the spring of 2006. Several Bass competitions take place during the year. The third weekend of August, is the Sanford Lake Catfish Derby. Visit the website for details

Dock Fishing at Verity Shores

The Fourth of July[edit]

The 4th of July on Sanford Lake is, perhaps, the biggest event on the lake each year. It is difficult to be a spectator or participant in the activities if you are not on a boat or at a home on the lakefront but, if you are, it is an enjoyable day and evening. Fireworks, in years past, have been launched from the boat launch and dock area of the Community of Christ campground on the west side of the lake (a private camp that allows public access by car for the fireworks-no alcohol permitted in the campground however). Local tradition during the day allows for boat-to-boat water fights so be prepared for water balloons and sprayers of various configurations. The lakeshore is well lit from dusk until after the main fireworks with the home-variety of fireworks. The lake is full with pontoon boats and other watercraft enjoying the display. The fireworks each year, are sponsored by the Sanford Lake Association.

External links[edit]