Waterloo State Recreation Area, Michigan

Waterloo State Recreational Area or Park, enveloping a total area of 21,000 acres of land within its frontier, is the 3rd largest recreation park of Michigan. The park is in northeastern parts of Jackson County and part of it is in Washtenaw County as well. This park is the largest of its kind in Lower Peninsula. The recreation park has 11 lakes, 4 campgrounds, more than 50miles of multi-use trails and a discovery center.

The park has many private lands inside the campus. The recreation area has still have some bogs and swamps left in the area post the last ice-age. Waterloo Natural History Association funds many projects and serves to the state offered services. Waterloo Horsemen’s Association co-works with the state for the maintenance and promotion of the horse trails and horse camps in the park.

History Of Waterloo State Recreation area

Settlement started in Waterloo in 1830, but due to poor fertility of the soil it could not be turned into a farmland and was transformed into a recreational park the post World War II, during the period of Great Depression. Many of the farm lands were left unused during that period and going by the survey of the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works many of those lands were transformed to such recreational parks and in 1935 were shifted to Resettlement Administration of Department of Agriculture. In that year many recreational demonstration projects were taken up and Waterloo State Recreation Area or Park was one of them.

Most of these places were Civil Conservation Corps camps and other sorts of relief camps. This site was handed over to the National Park Service from the Resettlement Administration in 1936. National Park Service leased out the park to Michigan State Government in 1943 under the term that it should still remain a recreational park.

Direction To Waterloo State Recreation Area

Waterloo Recreation Area or Park is 4miles to the west from Chelsea. Taking the Interstate 94 and exit 156 in Kalmbach move towards north and sign boards takes to the park’s headquarters at McClure Road.

Waterloo State Recreation Area Climate

The south-eastern parts of Michigan counts up the most in temperature increasing up to 21 degrees Celsius and even more in summers.

Winters are also warmer compared to other parts of the state and mostly levels a little less than the freezing point.

Annual precipitation sums within 18-32 inches.

Discovery Center At Waterloo State Recreation Area

Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center adds to the features of the recreational park apart from the nature drive and adventures. The discovery center has computer games, many interactive exhibits and an auditorium where many school programs and educative seminars are being held.

One of the exhibits of the center is a collection of fluted spear points that were used by the native tribes like Indians and many others for hunting during both the Paleolithic ages.

There is a geology room open to the viewing of visitors. A model of “Mad Scientist’s Lab” is accessible for all to take part in fun experiments. The “Fossil Graveyard” exhibits models of pre-historic teeth and bone fossils.

Activities At Waterloo State Recreation Area

The park has great activities to offer to visitors of all ages and adventure tastes with its diverse park features.

Camping : In Waterloo Recreation Area camping grounds are available as per your wish. Two of them are with modern amenities and the other is rustic and old school. There are total 434 camping sites that offer overnight camping facilities. Sugarloaf is available in summers only, Big Port is available in winters only, and Green Lake is accessible from May – December.

The modern campgrounds have facilities like power supply, boat launching, swimming beach, and washrooms. Big Port campground has a necessity store and a huge area for group tent camping.

Experience real adventure the whole day and rest at night at the rustic cabins. These have water pumps and bunk beds, but no power supply or showers.

Please contact the park headquarters for reservations.

Hiking : For hiking enthusiasts more than 50miles of trails with rusty and dusty earthen course, varying from short-mile hiking trails to 23-miles, waits in the park.

The park offer a list of 7miles of skiing trails, 15miles of trail for horse-riding, and 5miles for mountain biking. Experience great adventure with horse camping in the park, on the horse-riding trails.

Picnicking : A great day out could also be planned at the park apart from overnight camping. The picnic spot at the Big Port Lake is equipped with grills, tables, toilets, and water facilities and is open from 8am till 10pm.

Both the picnicking sites at Mud Lake and Crooked Lake have grills and tables. The one at Big Port Lake has facilities meeting the universal levels.

The picnic sites at the Portage Lake are available during the day only.

Please contact the park headquarters for reservations.

Swimming : The beaches at Sugarloaf and Big Port Lake are accessible for swimming. The Big Port Lake beach operates from 8am till 8pm and also has a beach store.

Boating : Boat launches are available for visitors at the Cedar Lake, Big Port Lake, Walsh Lake, Mill Lake, Mud Lake, Crooked Lake, and Green Lake. Winnewana Impoundment is also available for boating.

Clear Lake, Cassidy Lake, Little Port Lake, Merkle Lake, and Doyle Lake are accessible by foot. Sugarloaf Lake is limited to registered campers only since it is inside the campground area.

Fishing : Crooked Lake and Big Portage Lake are accessible for fishing. Some great panfish, pike, and bass are found in the lakes of Waterloo Recreation Area.

Hunting : Hunting is allowed in Waterloo State Recreation Area from 15th September to 31st March. A fine collection of rabbits, squirrels, deer, turkey, woodcock, and grouse could be found in the park.

A day out picnicking amidst nature, or camping out with a group, or hiking, or mountain biking, or fishing, or swimming, or excursion in the discovery center, Waterloo State Recreation Area has it all to cater to your wishes.

Permits At Waterloo State Recreation Area

For the reservations and permit details please contact the park headquarters.

Contact Details

Waterloo Recreation Area
Address : 16345 McClure Road, Chelsea, Michigan – 48118, United States
Phone : (734) 475 – 8307
Fax : (734) 475 – 1830
TTY : 517 – 335 – 4623
Website : www.dnr.state.mi.us

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