hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

views

birding

trail running

lake

dogs on leash

wild flowers

The park is over 20,000 acres and finding where you want to go may require some extra time. The park map can be obtained by clicking on the link at the top of this page. Please call if further directions are needed. The park has 4 campgrounds, beaches, picnic areas, 11 fishing lakes, nature trails, 47 miles of hiking trails, cabins, equestrian trails and the Gerald Eddy Discovery Center.

backpacking
19 days ago

Great overnight solo trip. Trails were well marked. Hiked from Portage lake to Pine backcountry campground, about 12 miles on my phone, took 4 hours. unfortunately even though I paid for and reserved a site, they were all full when I arrived. Apparently some people just show up without paying. There was plenty of room to pitch a tent, but it also would have been nice to have my own flat site....
Overall, a great hike. Easily accessible to roads if needed. But you still feel like you’re in the wilderness.

hiking
21 days ago

Spring Pond Loop is a nice little trail. I'd recommend the Bog Trail or the Lowland loop over Spring Pond if you just want to do one short trail at the Discovery Center.

hiking
21 days ago

The Lowland loop is a nice little trail. It has a spectacular, albeit damaged, American Beech and a number of smaller examples as well. The trail is well-maintained, with only a few areas having a bit of dampness - very superficial muddiness - despite recent rains.

hiking
22 days ago

The Bog Trail was a very pleasant surprise. Its varied flora more than compensates for being an out-and-back trail. It offers rare glimpses of Beech-Maple forest along the ridges, with more and more ferns interspersed as you get into the boggier areas. Looking forward to revisiting in the spring. The trail was well maintained and very dry, another surprise given the rain a couple days ago.

The Lakeview part of this trail is an ugly 1.3 mile loop that would benefit from a controlled burn, or maybe an uncontrolled one. Adding to the insult, getting there is a mile each way on an out-and-back that is part of the Waterloo-Pinckney (and is a nice trail, but boring the 2nd time through in a day). There is only one spot on the Lakeview Loop from which you actually get any views of the lake and that is about 0.2 miles from the start of the loop (when coming from the Discovery Center direction). Do yourself a favor - just go out to the lookout, see the lake, then go back to Waterloo-Pinckney and continue to wherever you were going; other parts of the Waterloo SRA woods are far prettier than what you'll miss around the Lakeview Loop. The only reason it doesn't get 1-star rating is the trail is well maintained and the Waterloo-Pinckney part is pretty woods.

The Hickory Hills part of this hike is a 4-star hike. *However*, the actual Hickory Hills part of the trail is only 1.1 miles long. To get to it from the Discovery Center, you need to hike about 1.7 miles *each way*. So most of this hike is actually an out-and-back, not a loop. Adding the Lake View loop doesn't relieve the boredom - that loop is the ugliest trail near the Discovery Center. I'd recommend you drive to the Waterloo SRA Headquarters parking lot, where the actual Hickory Hills trail head is located, rather than hiking out and back from the Discovery Center parking lot. The out-and-back part, as part of the Waterloo-Pinckney, is a fine trail, just not fine enough to do twice in one morning. The trails were well maintained.

Oak Woods Trail is a decent little trail. Nothing particularly special. It was in good shape, despite rain a couple days ago and is overall well maintained. I did it as part of a longer hike, so my tracklog might be a little funky.

Great trail in SE Michigan. We did part of this trail this past weekend as a two day, one night hike. The bugs were not noticeable during the day. We did need to cover up while hanging out at camp though. Barely anyone on the trail although it was a beautiful weekend. Pines campground doesn't allow fires so we chose to spend our one night at Green Lake. We were pleased with our choice. Definitely want to check out this trail again soon.

The DTE Foundation Winn Loop trail just opened in August, 2018. As a mountain bike trail, I expect it easily warrants a 5-star rating: lots of swooping, banked turns, several neat obstacles, plenty of up and down, both in little humps and dips and bigger climbs. As a hiker, I still give it a 5-star rating, but with a caveat. Too much of the trail is banked; almost all the turns are steeply banked, but even the "flat" parts of the trail are banked if the trail is anything other than a straight line. That one complaint aside, most of the trail is through beautiful woods with occasional glimpses of lakes and ponds. Mile 6.5 to 7.5 (going counter clockwise) was the only mildly unattractive part of the hike. I saw 10 - 15 bikers during my hike (from 8:30am to noon on a Monday). As with all the DTE Foundation loops at WSRA, bikers and hikers go opposite directions and the directions reverse on alternate days of the week. Full resolution versions of my pictures are available on https://johnmetzler.smugmug.com/Parks.

hiking
1 month ago

The DTE Green Loop is a nice, new-ish trail. It is in great shape, smooth, hard-packed, no rutting, plenty of spots for the hiker to step aside for oncoming bikes. The trail is set so bikers and hikers are in opposite directions and the directions for them switch on alternate days (e.g. see my 2nd picture, of the 0.0 mile marker). I hiked the trail on a Thursday morning, starting at 9am. There was one car in the lot; I saw 7 bikes on the trail during the two+ hours I was out. The lot had 8 or 10 cars in it when I finished a little after 11am. The east part of the trail, roughly the first 2 miles when going clockwise, there is a fair bit of road noise from M-52 coming over Green Lake. That fades when you get some woods between you and the road. The trail has 1/2-mile posts throughout and the intersection with Big Kame is clearly marked. There is essentially no wildlife beyond chipmunks and squirrels and couple white egrets; didn't see any deer tracks, let alone deer. There are no benches or other rest spots along the loop. My pictures are geo-tagged with the recording I uploaded. Hi-res versions of pictures at https://johnmetzler.smugmug.com/Parks

Great trail. Considering what we have in southeast Michigan, this trail is a gem. On the Waterloo side, you have rugged trails that are hiking only, filled with good vegetation. That turns into horse trails, so look out for dung. Camped at the pines, which was just fantastic, and then booked it from the pines to blind lake the second day. This was my eighth night I’ve spent at blind lake. It’s a great campsite, with the exception of glampers getting dropped off with acoustic guitars this time. After blind lake, you have a pretty busy mountain biking trail and a short hike out.

Over all, I highly recommend this hike for late spring and all of fall. The insects would be pretty bad in the late summer, and the heat and mugginess make it a little unbearable.

mountain biking
1 month ago

Start the green trail to reach the Big Kame trail and then access Winn trail for a an excellent day in biking!

Beautiful lush canopy. Nicely shaded. Great hike today. Very little traffic.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike. Bring bug spray.

Excellent hike and very well marked. Several good hills, overall easy

trail running
2 months ago

Fun trail for the confident biker or fun loving hiker.

Kinda hard to find, by the way it has a sign that labels it DTE trail or something. Be mindful as there are a lot of mountain bikers, and they have it set up so hikers walk the opposite direction, which lead to a couple times a fast biker with headphones almost slammed us.

trail is good and difficulty ratings are spot on.

Be prepared for Defcon 5-level mosquitoes. Much of the Waterloo side is covered in horse excrement, and the horses also do a pretty good job of tearing up the trail, so parts of it will feel like walking through sand. The Pinckney side has much higher quality trails, both in terms of scenery and trail maintenance. Ran into one person on the trail while hiking during weekdays.

Itinerary: Portage Lake trailhead > Pines campground > Green Lake Campground > Silver Lake. Around 10-11 miles each day for a 3 day/2 night sprint.

Be aware that Green Lake campground is a drive in campsite and there may be plenty of people on the weekends, so try to arrive early as you cannot reserve in advance and must self-register (bring cash, $17).

Pines DOES have water about 1/4 mile north - there is a water spigot near the gate to the stable area.

Green Lake also has a water pump.

Just remember to permethrin your gear, wear deet, and wear long sleeve shirts/pants.

mountain biking
4 months ago

Excellent trail for all riders, especially beginners like myself. Great cruising sessions and rolling hills. Connects to the Big Kame trail for a little more advanced riders as well. Now with both trails open and more opening soon, even at its busiest it isn’t too bad. Riders and hikers are generally good to one another.

mountain biking
4 months ago

Perfect trail to learn and get better at mountain biking. Can get really busy mid-day, ESPECIALLY on the weekends. I always go early in the morning (8am-9am) and don't have an issue. You can hike this, but just make sure that you are aware and ready to jump out of the way when bikes come flying around. There are plenty of other trails for just hikers in the area, so I wouldn't recommend this trail first for hiking. Views of Green Lake are great and is a super fun trail to ride.

Great day hike for anyone in the area. Crooked Lake is beautiful and there's a little bench that allows for you to take in the waterfront views for a while. Perfect in the fall.

We decided that 95* weather was appropriate to go on a long hike (lol). The tree cover made for a pleasant experience, perfect temp! Thoroughly enjoyed this trail, although we did get a little backwards at one point and continued on to the Waterloo-Pickney trail instead of following the loop and added about 1/2 mile of steep terrain to our hike, but was worth it. Made our way back to the loop, finished up and made plans to come back!

A good spot to feel in nature, with some nice hills in the loop at the end. A couple of back roads to cross and passing a couple of bogs where the bug situation is pretty intense, but well worth it. Good two hour hike.

backpacking
5 months ago

Great trail for being so close to home. Much more elevation than you would expect so it's good for a long weekend backpacking hike and training. I did about 15 miles a day for the first two days. I ended up doing about 38 miles when I included hikes to water and camp sites. A good number of water spots on the first half to filter from. However it seems to become more rare after that. Passed two small groups of horseback riders. If you are in a closed in space simply step off the trail and say hello or anything to announce your presence so as to not spook the animals. I think they are mostly used to it but it's just good practice.

hiking
5 months ago

5-9-18 Hike. From a previous reviewer I knew going on this hike it was a mountain bike trail used by hikers. I thought that by doing this on a Wednesday morning it wouldn’t be very busy. When we arrived the parking lot was half full of cars w/bike racks. At the beginning of the trail there are signs telling you which direction to travel. 4 days out of the wk hikers traveled counter clockwise. The hike was very nice with slight elevation nothing too hard. Plenty of wildlife and beautiful flowers and scenery. Will definitely go back to take my son biking.

A really nice easy walk. Really cool flowers and ferns

Good for mountain biking. Also for hiking if not too many bikes. Fun and challenging.

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