This little body of water is found in Presque Isle County…the constant appearing and disappearing of this lake is what gave ‘Mystery Valley’ its name.

The preserve where Mystery Valley sits is on 76 acres of land and is known as one of the largest ‘collapse valleys’ in Michigan. According to the Glossary of Karst Terminology, this type of valley is not formed by ever-flowing rivers, but by “the collapse of the roof of a cave, of an underlying cave, or of an overhanging ledge…A closed depression formed by the collapse of the roof of a cave.”

Added to this, says this particular valley was created by “the collapse of the surface into a network of underground chambers created by water erosion of the rock below.”

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This particular collapse made quite an impressive ‘valley’ – 1 ½ miles long, 1,500 feet wide, and 150 feet deep. Within this valley are numerous caves, shafts, sinkholes, and swallow holes, many of which are dangerous…and visitors are advised to not venture off the public trails. You could actually wind up in a hole or crack that could be up to 100-feet deep…and how would you get out?

All fine and dandy, but what’s the scoop on this appearing and disappearing lake? It’s formed by water that rises from underground through a sinkhole - mixed with any rain or melting snow - and covers most of the west side of Mystery Valley. On the far west end is a giant sinkhole, or ‘swallow hole’ which is believed to be where the water drains off, making the whole lake disappear once again.

Where does the water disappear to? The consensus is that it drains into Lake Huron, which is not so far-fetched, as it’s only approximately 20 miles away. How often do the appearances and disappearances occur? There is no time-table. It comes and goes when it feels like it…it could take months, or sometimes even years before any change happens.

Visiting Mystery Valley may leave you awestruck with all the crevasses, cracks, and splits in the earth. Just be cautious…now check out some photos below!

The Disappearing Lake in Mystery Valley, Presque Isle County


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