Cass Lake Family Life 

Cass Lake Family Life Image result for Cass Lake MI picture


Cass Lake in Oakland County offers great lake front family life only a short 30-mile drive from the Detroit metro area. Cass is the largest freshwater lake in this 900 square mile county. The lake is named for former Michigan governor Lewis Cass. Due to its size, it is one of the most preferred fishing and water recreation lakes in the region.

Cass is a natural glacial-formed lake supporting a large number of fish species and many recreational activities. The lake surface area covers 1,282 acres with 25 miles of shoreline. The maximum depth is 123 feet with an average of 26 feet. Orchard Lake from the south feeds into Cass Lake with a one-foot elevation change between the lakes. Cass Lake then feeds into Otter and Sylvan Lakes and eventually to the Clinton River that is dammed by the Price Dam below Sylvan Lake.

The local weather is close to ideal by Michigan standards. The summer climate is mild with temperatures hovering between the 70s and 80s. Winter temperatures tend to stay close to freezing. This makes for abundant year round recreation activities.  

Oakland County monitors and maintains lake levels for flood control, superior recreational use, and to protect property values. The Department of Natural Resources stocks the lake every other year with Walleye and occasionally with other fish including rainbow trout. It is also a popular for winter ice fishing. Other fish found in the lake include:

  • Bass
  • Pike
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Crappie
  • Splake Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Sunfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch

Cass Lake is about much more than only fishing. Summer activities feature:

  • Sunbathing
  • Swimming
  • Boating of all types:
  • Power
  • Sail
  • Canoes
  • Kayaks
  • Pontoon
  • And more
  • Dock life
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Most everything else you want to do on or near a lake

Winter activities feature:

  • Ice skating
  • Ice sailing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snowmobiling

The local communities are Waterford Township, Bloomfield Township, Orchard Lake Village West, and Keego Harbor. Lake Cass is a public lake with a mile of sandy shore at Dodge #4 State Park. Also on the lake is Pontiac Yacht Club.


Waterford Township

Waterford Township has a population of about 73,000 people in 19 neighborhoods. It is the 19th largest community in Michigan. The workforce is a mix of both white- and blue-collar jobs. Waterford is upper middle class by Michigan standards with a median annual income of $119,640 for a family of four. However, Waterford is relatively diverse by being home to both very wealthy and poor people. Ethnically the population is dominantly white (83%), Hispanic (7%), and African American (5%). Major ancestry groups include: Irish, English, Polish, and Italian.

Approximately 92% of the people have completed high school, 27% have college degrees, and another 5% have attended some college. There are 16 schools in the Waterford School District with approximately 9,500 enrolled students. The average class size is 17 students per classroom. The district budget is approximately $133.9 million which comes to about $14,100 per student.  

The median home value in Waterford is slightly above $147,000 with about 36% below $75,000 and 5% above $1.4 million. The homeownership rate is right at 70%. Rentals comprise 30% of the housing. The total vacancy rate is less than 7%. The vast majority of homes (84%) were built between 1940 and 1999.

West Bloomfield Township

The Timberridge Drive and Recreation Drive area is a suburb of West Bloomfield adjoining Cass Lake. The 2010 census population is 64,690 people. Locals refer to it as the “lake township of Oakland County”. It is one of the most expensive places to live in Oakland County. Available statistics are dated but according to a 2007 estimate the median income for a household was $98,832 and the median income for a family of 4 was $113,191.

The dominate racial makeup of the township is 78% White and 11% African American. Well over half of the people are white collar in professional, executive, and management positions. About 25% are in service and sales jobs with about 7% in manufacturing and labor jobs.

As of 2013, the school district had 6,633 students including 1,326 from outside the district as part of its “Schools of Choice” program. There is approximately 1 teacher per 15 students. The district was distinguished as the 2013 “District of the Year” by the Oakland County Community and Adult Educators for outstanding community education programs and services.

Median home value in the Timberridge Drive and Recreation Drive areas is $327,729. This is almost 94% higher than Michigan as a whole.  Almost all (98%) are owner occupied three and four bedroom homes. Most are newer homes built between 1970 and 1999 with some older homes dating back to 1940. The neighborhoods have a high concentration of Canadian and Finnish ancestry people.

Orchard Lake Village West

Orchard Lake Village is a small community with a population of about 2,400 people. In addition to bordering Cass Lake on the north, this small city surrounds Orchard Lake. It is among the most affluent cities in Michigan with a median household income of $400,289. The median home value is $456,700.

The prominent racial makeup of the city is 84% White, 7% Asia, and 6% African American. Most of the schools are within the West Bloomfield School District (see above). College education is important in this community with 62.68% of the adults in Orchard Lake Village having a 4-year college. A significant number have master degrees, as well as degrees as doctors, lawyers, and PhDs.

Keego Harbor

Keego Harbor is another small city on the shores of Cass Lake and Sylvan Lake with a population of 3,021 people. Median annual income is $107,212 for a family of four. The median home value is $121,600. The racial makeup of the city is approximately 84% White, 10% Hispanic, 6% African American, and 2% Asian.

Keego Harbor is within the West Bloomfield School District (see above). About 31% of adults in Keego Harbor have at least a bachelor’s degree. People work primarily as managers, sales and office workers, and service providers.

Local Lore (placeholder)

By Wendy Patton



Kent Lake in Kensington Metropark


Kent Lake is a recreational lake in southwestern Oakland County. It is part of a 100,000 acres watershed that extends from the headwaters of the Huron River downstream to Kent Lake. Kent Lake makes up part of the 4,486 sprawling acres of Kensington Metropark, containing wetlands providing quality water and artistic value. At 1,200-acres, Kent Lake is inside the park and does not offer lakeside living but is a treasured recreation center for nearby residents and visitors alike.

Kent Lake is the place to be on a sunny day where you can rent paddleboats, canoes, kayaks, or rowboats. Once on the lake, you’ll want to visit and enjoy Labadie Island, fish for crappie, bass, walleye, and trout or just paddle the day away to be surrounded by beautiful nature.

Kent Lake is mostly located in Oakland County, Michigan, a short distance from the Milford and Lyon Townships. A small portion of the lake, including its dam, is located in Green Oak Township, Livingston County. The weather is the idyllic four-season model with a mild summer climate with temperatures hovering between the 70s and 80s. Winter temperatures tend to stay close to freezing. This makes for year-round recreational activities.

The dam is at the downstream end of the lake. The deepest point in the lake is 36 feet at the southwest end. About 85% of the lake averages 10 feet or slightly less with many pockets of vegetation. There are approximately 15 miles of shoreline varying from sandy beach to eroding low bank and includes several shallow bays.

For Fisherman

You won’t have traffic from speedboats full of people and pulling tubes (max. speed 10 mph). You will find nice Large Mouth Bass, Pike, and plenty of panfish (gills/crappies). Anglers can also expect to catch Bluegill, Channel Catfish, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, and Yellow Perch.

Fishermen will find two boat launches within the park along with several fishing piers at the southwestern end of the lake. There is also an abundance of shoreline fishing with parking available around the lake. Kent Lake is also popular for ice fishing during the winter.


Kent Lake is the focal point of the Kensington Metropark. This is one of the most popular parks in Michigan with 4,486 expansive acres. Kent Lake and the surrounding area is home to a richness of wildlife and waterfowl within the wooded and hilly landscape.

Recreational activities abound year-round. Besides a day at the beach, favorite summer activities include boating and trail bicycling. In the winter, you’ll enjoy cross-country skiing and tobogganing. Sunrises and sunsets over the lake are year-round pleasures.

Other activities include:

  • Swimming at Martindale and Maple beaches.
  • Wildlife viewing.
  • Group camping.
  • Baseball fields.
  • Touring the lake aboard the Island Queen II in the summer and fall.
  • Fun for kids and the young at heart at the Splash ‘n’ Blast.
  • 18-hole regulation golf course.
  • 27-hole disc course.
  • Nature center.
  • Farm center.
  • Beautiful lakeside picnics.
  • Special Events:
  • Horse Camp Jr
  • Kensington Marathon
  • Junior Golf Championship
  • Farmer for a Day
  • Mad Scientist Camp
  • Fun on the Farm
  • Outdoor Adventure Club
  • Farmer Jr.
  • Daring Day for Girls
  • And much more on a daily and weekly basis.
  • Educational opportunities are provided about the rich natural and cultural history of southeast Michigan.
  • An ever-changing schedule of outdoor activities.

With 2-1/2 million visitors every year, Kensington Metropark is a favorite place to enjoy Michigan’s natural treasures.

Photo by: Colin Andersen Photo. Kent Lake - panoramio.jpg


Milford Township

Milford offers quick and easy access not only to Kent Lake and Kensington Metropark but also to other water and wilderness activities on and around the Huron River, Proud Lake, and Island Lake. The township has a small town feel with a population of about 6,400. The average 2017 income was $91,713 with a median income of $71,579. There are approximately 2,833 homes of which 1,922 are owner occupied. The average home value is $227,185 and the median value is $199,434.

More specifically, detached homes in the area have a mean price of $286,457. Attached homes such as townhouses go for about $182,905. Multiplexes range from 2-unit structures at around $217,447, 3-to-4-units: $133,627, and 5-or-more-unit structures at $168,541.

The downtown hub is known for its fabulous family-owned shops and independent restaurants. Originally established around 1900, Milford has preserved a charming traditional downtown in the Old World style that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Milford is a family orientated town known for its excellent school system, modern YMCA, hometown parades, dance and music schools, and six town parks. The parks are hubs for children and teenagers who are attracted to the playscape, basketball courts, tennis court, volleyball court, and ice rink. Hubbell Pond Park includes a trail system that runs all the way to Kensington Park. This great township also features easily accessed to both I-96 and M-59.

South Lyon Township

Also near Kent Lake and Kensington Metropark is South Lyon Township with a population of about 12,200. The average 2017 income was $85,055 with a median income of $61,559. There are approximately 5,275 homes of which 3,820 are owner occupied. The average home value is $187,772 and the median value is $178,974.

The excellent school system is made up of seven elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools. All of the schools are accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. The South Lyon Community Schools were rated first in the Tri-county area using the Standard & Poors cost performance index. Improvements in MEAP scores are among the best in the state.

This city offers small town living near the crossroads of Interstate 96 and US 23, in the southwest corner of Oakland County. The state capital of Lancing is less than an hour drive and Detroit is only 45 minutes away.

Green Oak Township

Near to South Lyon and also among these great recreational areas is Green Oak with a population of over 19,000. Established in 1835, Green Oak is located in the Southeast corner of Livingston County. Other outdoor recreational areas include Huron Meadows Metropark and the Island Lake State Recreation Area along the Huron River and within the community.

The average 2017 income was $98,906 with a median income of $80,164. There are approximately 7,692 homes of which 6,202 are owner occupied. The average home value is $273,537 and the median value is $244,197.

Green Oak students attend classes in the three school districts of Whitmore Lake, Brighton, and South Lyon. Hawkins Elementary and Scranton Middle School are in the northwest portion of the township with Brummer Elementary School in the southeast portion.

US-23 is the main North/South route through Green Oak Township and I-96 is close to the northern border. Rolling hills, streams, woodlands, and lakes are plentiful throughout the township and 20 percent is public parkland. The Green Oak Historic District Commission oversees the preservation of township heritage. Among the designated sites are:

  • The Sawyer/Butler cobblestone house
  • The Governor Kinsley Bingham home 
  • The Olds/Read Greek Revival house 
  • The 1856 Green Oak Township Hall 
  • The Herald/Carson Queen Anne style farm house 
  • The Johnson district vernacular farm house

 Other communities that might interested you in the vicinity of Kent Lake are:

  • Wixom
  • Brighton
  • Whitmore Lake
  • Walled Lake
  • Wolverine Lake
  • Novi
  • Northville

Local Lore (placeholder)

By Wendy Patton


  6. Governement history:

Discover Life on Orchard Lake

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Orchard Lake is a natural lake in southeastern Michigan. The lake is 788 acres in size and serves both as a residential and recreational lake. The lake has six miles of shoreline. Orchard Lake is a mere 3 miles from the city of Pontiac and only 25 miles from Detroit. The lake formed as a deep depression in the earth when ancient glaciers melted. The lake features three islands with Apple Island being the largest at 33 acres. Early settlers named it Apple Island when they found that Natives Americans had planted an apple orchard there. Hence, the names Apple Island and Orchard Lake. Apple Island is now designated a protected wildlife sanctuary.

The lake has a maximum depth of 110 feet with an average of 23 feet. It is the second largest lake in Oakland County and the third deepest. Although a natural lake, at times of high water, the level is lowered by releasing excess water to nearby Cass Lake. Oakland County maintains oversight for flood control, optimal recreational use, and to protect property values.

Orchard Lake is popular for its beauty and rich history along with woodlands and wildlife. Native Americans were the first to fish and hunt among the many lakes making up this region of Michigan. Today’s residents enjoy a suburban community life known for its beauty, recreational opportunities, and comfortable living. The major population and business center is the City of Orchard Lake Village, located within West Bloomfield Township. Orchard Lake Village surrounds Orchard Lake.

Fishing Orchard Lake

Although a public lake, weekday fishing offers plenty of tranquility and privacy. The water is clear and sparkling in almost all areas. A day on the lake typically involves viewing a variety of wildlife including egrets, swallows, hawks, ducks, and swans. Locals and returning fisherman report catching:

  • Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Black Bass
  • Perch
  • Black Crappie
  • Pike
  • Bluegill
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Brown Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Cisco
  • Sunfish
  • Crappie
  • Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Walleye
  • Muskellunge
  • Yellow Perch


Recreation and Activities

Orchard Lake offers activities on and near the water such as sunbathing, swimming, and boating fun. Beyond the water’s edge are activities such as the West Bloomfield Trail (4.25-miles) that wanders around the eastern shore of Orchard Lake. The trail is popular during both summer and winter with hikers, joggers, cross-country skiers, and bicyclists. Features along the trail include woodlands, wetlands, and wildflower fields. It also strolls through residential and commercial districts.

The Orchard Lake Nature Sanctuary is a must see and is visited repeatedly by many people. This is a pristine 50-acres preserve from which both Orchard Lake and the Upper Straits Lake make up the majestic scenery. Some of the oak trees on the site are more than 250 years old. The rolling hill terrain formed by melting glaciers just as Orchard Lake was. One of the most popular attractions is the blanket of blooming Snow Glories flowers in mid-April. A naturalist conducts regularly scheduled tours. The Lake Orchard Nature Sanctuary is locally managed by a nine member advisory committee.

Another intriguing activity is visiting the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society lodged in the Orchard Lake Museum (formerly Orchard Lake City Hall). Among the permanent displays is a Native American dugout canoe from the 1600s. Other exhibits and stories highlight the Ottawa Indians, the Orchard Lake Hotel, the Michigan Military Academy at Orchard Lake, and prominent citizens who influenced the area. The Military Academy sits on the east shore of Orchard Lake. The academy closed in 1908 and reopened in 1909 as St. Mary’s Preparatory, an all-male college preparatory high school and seminary.  

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City of Orchard Lake Village

The Village of Orchard Lake lies on the southwest shore of the lake with a population of 2,455 residents (2018). Orchard Lake, Cass Lake, and Upper Straits Lake are all within or partially within the city limits. The community has adopted zoning rules for the purpose of preserving the garden-like environment of the community.

This is an upscale community with a low concentration of lakefront homes. Homes with large lots are found on the southeast, west, and northwest shorelines. Public access to Orchard Lake is provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources via a public access boat ramp on the southwest shore with parking for about 60 vehicles.

Lake Orchard Village is a small community with about 900 dwellings (2018). Of these, 780 are owner occupied. The median home value is $713,600 with an average value of about $938,100. The median household income is $181,700 and the average is $226,400.  Orchard Lake Village is consistently ranked as the most affluent town in Michigan.

Besides St. Mary’s Preparatory, Orchard Lake Village is mostly located in the West Bloomfield Public School District. As of 2013, the school district had 6,633 students including 1,326 from outside the district as part of its “Schools of Choice” program. There is approximately 1 teacher per 15 students. The district was distinguished as the 2013 “District of the Year” by the Oakland County Community and Adult Educators for outstanding community education programs and services. One portion of Orchard Lake Village is in Walled Lake Consolidated Schools.

Nearby towns are (by distance):

  • Keego Harbor
  • Sylvan Lake
  • Franklin
  • Pontiac
  • Bloomfield Hills
  • Wolverine Lake
  • Bingham Farms
  • Farmington Hills
  • Walled Lake


Local Lore

Native Americans are credited with planting the apple trees on Apple Island and the vicinity is rich in legends of Native Americans. A stone monument near the junction of Commerce Road and Indian Trail Road, at the northeast side of the lake, marks one end of a trail between Mt. Clemens and Orchard Lake. The monument commemorates the great Chief Pontiac and his warriors who are said to have come here after the Battle of Bloody Run.

Chief Pontiac and his followers are rumored to have used Apple Island as a home site, although there is no proof to substantiate this. Stories are told of Native Americans escaping from their enemies by riding across the lake on the shallow bars out to the island because they knew where the bars were and their enemies did not.

By Wendy Patton



Pine Lake Luxury Living

Pine Lake in Michigan is a private lake known for large and luxurious waterfront homes. This 395-acre lake in Oakland County features a marina, the Pine Lake Country Club, and is an all-sport lake. An all-sport lake allows all types of motor boats. However, because the lake is private, the overall boating activity is limited.

This fresh water lake has a maximum depth of approximately 94 feet and a mean depth of around 19 feet. It is located within West Bloomfield Township, Oakland County, Michigan. Pine Lake is a natural glacial-formed lake supporting a large number of fish species and many recreational activities.

The local weather spans the ideal Michigan standard four seasons. The summer climate is mild with temperatures hovering between the 70s and 80s. Winter temperatures tend to stay close to freezing. This makes for abundant year round recreation activities.

There are approximately 175 lakefront homes, 13 homeowner and condominium owner associations, the country club, and the marina on Pine Lake.

Pine Lake Living and Recreation

Your own private access to Pine Lake is the gem of an exclusive lifestyle along with many other perks. At the core of Pine Lake and West Bloomfield are enticing lake communities with high-end demographics and good schools. The Pine Lake Country Club is located directly on the lake with an abundance of amenities. It was originally established in 1902 as The Automobile Club of Detroit by the automotive icons John Dodge, Ransom Olds, and Henry Ford. It began with a small golf course built in 1917 that was soon expanded into a championship course designed by professional golf legend Willie Park Jr. Today, The Pine Lake Country Club features an Olympic size swimming pool, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a ballroom, several banquet rooms, fine dining, boat docks, and beach. The lake is viewed from almost every corner of the clubhouse and grounds. Even the snack bar frequented by children accentuates lakeside dining. The entire experience is about lakeside life, activities, relaxation, and the views.

The upscale Pine Lake community has a median real estate price over $368,000, which is more expensive than 86% of the neighborhoods in Michigan. Most of the original homes built in the 1940s have been replaced with newer and bigger homes. The largest home on the lake is over 11,000 square feet on 2 1/3 acres with 7 bedrooms, 12 baths, 3 half baths, with a 3+ car garage. However, many of the homes are in the 1,500 – 5,000 square feet range. Most lakefront homes have between 40 and 100 feet of waterfront.

The neighborhoods are safer and have less crime than most other neighborhoods. The majority of residences have college and advanced degrees (including Ph.D. and law degrees), work as professionals, and in other white-collar positions. Incomes are well above average (upper-middle) with incomes exceeding 81% of the neighborhoods in America. The most common ancestries are German, Irish, and Polish. The average one-way work commute is 15 to 30 minutes.

Although many of the people here work, it is also considered a retiree’s dream neighborhood because it is quiet and peaceful. Retirees (and others) who hang out a “gone fishing” sign will find plenty of fish in the lake including: blue gill, crappie, northern pike, smallmouth Bass, and largemouth bass. Since 1974, Pine Lake Ski School has been another attraction on the lake.

Of course this private lake has many other activities. You’ll enjoy dock life, hiking, wildlife viewing, and anything else you want to do on or near the lake. Winter time doesn’t mean cabin fever when right outside your door are ice skating, ice sailing, ice hockey, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and more.

Children on Pine Lake mostly attend Bloomfield Hills schools although there is a small section of the lake where the children attend Pontiac Schools. The reputation of Bloomfield Hills schools is for being the best public schools in Michigan. Approximately 90% of graduating seniors are accepted into their college of first choice. The high school graduation rate is 98% and 94% go on to attend college or university. The schools achieve an average of 19 annual National Merit Scholars winners and SAT/ACT scores are well-above national averages. There are 22 Advanced Placement programs in high school. The faculty includes 82% with masters degrees or higher and all teach in their major field of study.


Local Lore (History of the Pine Lake Area)

Prior to Europeans settling the area, Native Americans are believed to have lived in the West Bloomfield area for some 12,000 years. They lived primarily by hunting and fishing. While the French are believed to have been the first Europeans to explore the area, it was in 1817 that the U.S. Government commissioned the first survey. What is now known as Pine Lake was first known as Lake Canfield.

During the 1820s the government started auctioning land around Pine Lake. Word got out quickly this area outside of Detroit was ideal for settling based on cheap land with abundant water. John Huff from New York was the first to begin clearing an area on the southeast shore of Pine Lake in 1821. It was here that he built a large log cabin. The first West Bloomfield post office originated in 1831 at the home of John Ellenwood on the eastern shore of Pine Lake. It took hardy settlers in the early years due to scavenging bears and prowling wolves. Early settlers reported wolf packs crossing the winter ice of Pine Lake.

It was in the 1880s that Pine Lake saw real growth with the addition of summer homes and cottages offering seasonal lodging. It didn’t take long before Pine Lake became a sanctuary for tourists from Detroit. Among the people purchasing land here at that time was K. Burnham, owner of a fashionable summer home which he proudly christened “Utopia.” Many summer social activities took place in and around Pine Lake that received considerable ink in the Pontiac newspapers of the time.

Among the earliest social clubs at Pine Lake were Interlaken and the Girls’ Friendly Society. Both of which are documented in Charles H. Martinez’s book Reflections on the History of West Bloomfield.

By Wendy Patton