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Waterloo-Pinckney Trail – Trails

The Waterloo-Pinckney Trail is the only true backpacking trail in southeast Michigan.  The trail extends through old farmlands, past ruins of a couple homesteads, and passes countless fences and other signs of previous habitation, if you keep your eyes open.  There’s also plenty of wildlife of nearly every type found in southeast Michigan.  Although it extends for over 55 km (before you add any extra loops, the app includes 110km of trails), it’s also easy to day hike the entire trail across many different days, as parking is plentiful along the trails.

The Waterloo Pinckney Trail app is designed specifically for hikers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers.  This is the only use allowed on most of the trails.  The trail passes through Waterloo State Recreation Area, Pinckney State Recreation Area, and Park Lyndon.  For more detail on adjacent trails in those parks, please download the app for that park.

  • The Waterloo Pinckney Trail: This is the main trail, stretching from Big Portage Lake to Silver Lake.
  • The Southwest Loop: This loop, near the west end of the trail, offers 4.5 km off the main trail, and takes you south into area shared with horses and mountain bikes.  The trail is fairly loose, sandy gravel, but you do travel up along the top of a ridgeline, with nice views on both sides, before rejoining the main trail.
  • The Southfork Cabin Loop: 2 km loop off the main trail, including one significant portage (or go just a bit farther north for an easier crossing).
  • The Discovery Center Trails: Waterloo State Recreation Area’s Discovery Center is a great museum/nature center/visitor center for the park, and definitely worth a stop.  While in the area, take a quick trip over to the bog or around any of the other short trails in this area.
  • Park Lyndon Trails: Park Lyndon straddles The Waterloo-Pinckney Trail at North Territorial Road.  With a mix of steep hills and wetlands, it’s near the center of the trail, and offers a chance to do a bit of aimless wandering before getting back on the main trail.  South of North Territorial Road, stick to the west for the most scenic routes.  North of North Territorial, stay east for some nice wetland trails.  The entire park is fairly small, so you aren’t likely to add more than a kilometer or two diverting off the main trail here.
  • Potawatomi Trail Loop: The Potawatomi Trail is one of the most popular hiking and mountain biking trails in the area.  The Waterloo-Pinckney Trail comes into the southwest corner of this trail network and follows the southern part of the trail, ending at the Silver Lake parking lot.  The northern part of the loop, 17km long, adds a good bit of extra hiking to your trip (or you can add less, or even slightly shorten your trip on the trails in this area).


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