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Tales of the Coast
America's Coasts

Great Lakes: Lake Huron

The majority of the northwestern coast of Lake Huron, hugging the edge of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, consists of limestone and dolomite bluffs that are resistant to erosion. The northern portion of the lakeshore, including the Canadian coast and Georgian Bay, are primarily composed of non-erosive bedrock. The western coast is characterized by sandy beaches and dunes interspersed with low banks and cohesive bluffs. The central portion of this part of the coastline is susceptible to erosion when vegetation holding dunes together is destroyed. Cohesive bluffs, mixed with areas of beaches, are common along the southern shoreline of Lake Huron

Wetlands are the predominant coastal landform at Saginaw Bay on the eastern side of the state of Michigan. In fact, Saginaw Bay contains the largest freshwater coastal wetland area in the United States, but it is estimated that only 15,000 acres of the original 37,000 acres of emergent vegetation remain today. Industrial and agricultural development in the surrounding area resulted in the destruction of much of the indigenous wetland area.

Most of the Lake Huron shoreline is relatively undeveloped, with the exception of some portions of the southern coast and the connecting channels, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and Detroit River, which join Lake Huron to Lake Erie. When the more than 30,000 islands along the shore are included, Lake Huron features the longest shoreline of all the Great Lakes.

Photo of Mackinac Bridge

The sun sets in this aerial view of the Mackinac Bridge, the third longest suspension bridge in the world, which connects Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas. Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

A Connected System

Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are hydrologically inseparable, due to their connection by the Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan. As a result, their water levels rise and fall in tandem.