Portage Lake Chain of Lakes

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The Portage Lake Chain of Lakes located in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties is comprised of a total of seven lakes connected by the Huron River.  Each lake has its own beauty and sweet spots.

First in the chain – actually located in Washtenaw county and without a public launch area – is Little Portage Lake.   Go under the Dexter-Pinckney Road bridge and you are in Big Portage Lake.  This lake has a State of Michigan Parks and Recreation run public boat launch.  To start your day, head into Big Portage Lake and stop for brunch at the Portage Yacht Club (also Midwest Sailing – a private sail club that hosts sailing lessons and sail races) on the east side of the lake.  Then take off through the river to see the rest of the lakes in the chain – but don’t forget to make a stop at the Trading Post or Riverside Pizza to stock up for the rest of the tour – boat docking is available!

Base Line Lake has a couple of sandbars, one on the south side and the other on the east side of the lake that are popular swimming stops.  This lake hosts the Pinckney Community School system on the west, north and east side of the lake, and the Dexter  Community School system on the south side.   PLUS!  It is the home to the University of Michigan’s Sailing Club.

Whitewood Lake is next one down river.  We look at it as one lake, but the Michigan DNR considers it two.

Next in line:  Gallagher Lakes.  This is, again, is a classified by the DNR as multiple lakes, though commonly considered one – it is almost an adventure to travel through!  This lake also extends south enough to be a part of the Dexter Community School system in some spots as well.

Strawberry Lake is next up.  This sprawling lake, longer than it is wide, has many inlets and coves to tuck away into if you want to take a private break.

Last, but not least, is Zukey Lake.   Be cautious here!  This is the most challenging lake to navigate through (right from the get-go out of the mouth of the river) due to the sand bars – pay heed to the map in the link.  BUT the patience to get through is WELL worth it as this lake is home to Zukey Lake Tavern – a very popular local watering hole, and typically the destination for the days’ trip through the chain!  Dock here and go inside (or on the roof deck) for a meal out of the sun, or call ahead and have their excellent, well-known pizza ready for pick up.

Up the chain and back is the perfect day trip for sun, with fun, along the way.  Each of these lakes are all-sports so bring whatever mode of water transportation you wish.

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