Pinckney Recreation Area is a paradise for backpackers, mountain bikers, anglers and other recreation enthusiasts. Pinckney is known for its extensive trail system and chain of excellent fishing lakes. Twenty-six miles of multi-use trail with remote campsites afford a backcountry experience.
I day hiked the 17.7 mile loop on Sunday, 14th of August, going counter-clock , as the bikers go clockwise. There were very few hikers, but lots of bikers.
- It’s a loop! You can park at different locations, and get back (I started at Hankerd Rd)
- Nice shade - mostly through woods and some lake banks. Not muddy, as it has sandy soil.
- Moderate workout (not recommended the whole hike in a day for beginners)
- Has a nice backcountry camping site near Blind lake (you can take a swim there during summer); sites can be reserved and paid online. https://www.midnrreservations.com/PinckneyRecreationArea%2fBlindLake%3fList
The not so good:
- Lots of poison ivy an trail sides (wear long pants, or long socks);
- Too many bikers share the trail make and it easy to get into a collision… probably during the week is somewhat different.
The trail itself is very well maintained, and there were very few areas blocked by overgrowth or fallen trees. There are a lot of lakes that make for very nice scenery, and if you pack accordingly, you could go off trail to swim. Bikers are traveling in the opposite direction of hikers, and flyby very fast sometimes. Blazes are sporadic, and mile markers not present, but it's fine. All in all, a very nice trail for hiking.
We backpacked from the trailhead into Blind Lake campground and had a blast. It is challenging trail to say the least. Lots of hills, several are quite large and difficult. It's about a 7 mile hike into Blind Lake (if you take the shortcut like we did) and about 4.5 mile hike back out. Our campsite was rusticly gorgeous. I will do this again after I lighten the load in my pack.
Great loop. Nice to have a long loop in central MI that never gets boring. Definitely try a few 6-9 mile hikes before committing to the full 17. You can take a few shortcuts to turn this into a 10 mile if you look at a map. The scenery is great and lightly trafficked generally. Not much elevation change to get the heart rate up but still a great workout due to distance alone.
I enjoyed hiking this trail a few weeks ago with a meetup group. It was a cold, wet day in May, but we shared the trail with friendly hikers and runners. some dogs were there. The trail was hilly, but fairly narrower than I expected. we hiked a short loop of 5 miles. I recommend this trail and will return.