by Mike Modrzynski (Falcon Guides)
© Mike Modrzynski/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
If you live in Southeast Michigan and you just don't have the time or resources to travel 100+ miles to wilder areas to hike, the Waterloo-Pinckney trail is an acceptable option for some longer distance backpacking and hiking. There are some sections that wind through the woods in which you feel properly isolated and you get an outdoors experience. More frequently, you will find yourself in overgrown meadows, farm fields, skirting private property, and crossing roads.
Some bushwhacking was necessary in many sections of the trail and several small trees overhang the trails, necessitating hunched-over hiking.
A large part of the trail in Waterloo State Park is shared with a horse bridle path system. This means of course that the trail is littered with horse poop and the sandy trail soil is quite chewed up with hoof-prints.
The trail does involve a medium amount of up and down climbing and the rolling terrain adds interest to the hike. Hill peaks, such as Sackrider hill, hold promises of a view, but the plant overgrowth obstructs all angles. At various points of popular interest along the trail you will find quite a bit of garbage.
The best portions of the trail come between Loveland Rd. and Green Lake. This section is off limits to bikes and horses and it involves the most uninterrupted woodland travel. In fact, if you're just visiting for a short hike, this area will give you the best experience.
After Green Lake you'll encounter more road crossings and travel through roadside parks. The hike finishes in Pinckney State Park along the Potawatomi Trail. This trail is a mountain-bike Mecca for the area, so expect many fast-moving bikes coming straight at you. Sometimes the trail is so worn into what is actually a giant rut, that moving out of the way involves an awkward hop out of the rut.
I enjoy the trail for what it is and come prepared for what it isn't. It is quite fortunate to have this type of trail in this region at all.
The old lady, and I Day Hike here all the time. Never more than 10 miles, but it allows us to see a lot of Nature very close to suburbia and two metropolitan areas in Ann Arbor and Detroit. Very well kept trails great for a day hike and then a meal or a beer in the posh, but quaint Ann Arbor, which is only about a 15 minute drive.
Great hike, either for day hikes or extended hiking.
Considering that this trail is a stone's throw from the major metropolitan areas in SE Michigan, this 26-mile trail is pretty good. Maybe that's why it is good... it's an accessible real hiking experience to the major population centers near Ann Arbor and Detroit.
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