Explore the most popular birding trails in Waterloo State Recreation Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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
21 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

This is a great trail, especially if you are new to mountain biking, like me.

this trail is 4.7 miles not the 3.7 that is displayed

on DTE Green Trail

hiking
11 months ago

There were a lot of mountain bikers but I would still recommend checking this trail out.

Loved this little loop. My pup enjoyed the muddy “pond”.

Quiet, beautiful and easy.

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