Brighton Recreation Area
Guide

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Introduction

Featuring year-round RV camping, Brighton Recreation Area is a stop you don’t want to miss! The 4,947-acre park has a combination of high, irregular ranges of hills interspersed with several lakes. You’ll find oak forests, thick hedgerows, and open meadows in the uplands while the lowlands include grassy marshes, shrub marshes, and dense swamp timber.

A 44-site modern RV campground is located at Bishop Lake. This campground has electrical hookups and a modern shower building. There are also three rustic campgrounds, a group day-use area, and six picnic shelters located throughout the park.

Brighton Recreation Area has two unique features. The first, Jump Island, is located on Bishop Lake and offers an awesome inflatable water park experience. The water park includes an obstacle course, an inflatable iceberg, slides, and more challenges that allow you to run, jump, and slide through the water.

The second unique feature is the Brighton Recreation Riding Stables. The park has 18 miles of bridle trails and the riding stables offering group horseback riding, pony rides, lessons, and more. Or you can bring your own horse and stay at the rustic equestrian campground.

There are many other things to do at Brighton Recreation Area including picnicking, fishing, and swimming. Since the park is open year-round, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor winter activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing as well.

RV Rentals in Brighton Recreation Area

Transportation in Brighton Recreation Area

Driving

Brighton Recreation Area is located about 50 miles north of Detroit in Livingston County, Michigan. On the way to the park, you will travel down Main Street in downtown Brighton. Be sure to check out the shops and restaurants in the area as you drive by in case you want to visit later. The park headquarters is located on Chilson Road. Across from the headquarters is Bishop Lake Road which heads east about one mile to the main trailhead at the Bishop Lake campgrounds and day-use area. Continue west on Bishop Lake Road to reach the riding stable and equestrian campground.

There are almost nine miles of paths designated for hikers only. RV campers will be happy to know that all hiking trails begin at the Bishop Lake day-use area next to the campground. Hike through wooded hills, past the wetlands, or along the lake. The Bishop Lake day-use area also serves as the major trailhead to 14 miles of mountain bike trails. Experienced riders will enjoy the Torn Shirt Trail with its steep uphill curves and narrow, heavily wooded stretches. Intermediate riders will prefer the Murray Lake Trail. Another way to traverse the park is on horseback. If you don’t have your own horse, don’t fret, simply visit the riding stable and rent a horse for the day or take a guided trail tour.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Brighton Recreation Area

Campsites in Brighton Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Bishop Lake Campground

Drive your RV to the Bishop Lake Campground on the shore of the park’s largest lake. This campground has 144 modern campsites with electrical hookups. The campground is divided into two loops. The Lower Loop is closer to the lake and the toilet/shower building while the Upper Loop has more trees and is a bit shadier. There is a paved path with stairs that runs from the Upper Loop to the restroom/shower building. The Bishop Lake day-use area is located next to the campground and features a sandy beach, picnic area, and bathhouse. The inflatable “Jump Island” water park is also located on Bishop Lake. And there’s a concession stand for renting canoes, paddle boats, and other small water craft throughout the summer. The Bishop Lake day-use area is also the major trailhead to both all hiking and mountain biking trails. The horseback riding stables and equestrian trails are just west of the campground.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Rustic Campgrounds

There are three rustic campgrounds and a group-use area at Brighton Recreation Area. The Murray Lake rustic campground is only open on the weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The Equestrian campground is for experienced horseback riders. This campground features full equestrian facilities including a riding stable, staging area, and 18 miles of bridle trails. Then there is the Appleton Lake Rustic campground featuring rustic cabins and the Group-Use Area. All rustic sites have vault toilet facilities.

Seasonal activities in Brighton Recreation Area

In-Season

Horseback Riding

Bring your horse and enjoy riding the 19 miles of beautiful trails. Gallop over hills and through meadows, trot through forests and wetlands, and stop by a lake or stream to get refreshed. Brighton Recreation Area has lots of equestrian-friendly amenities including a staging area, a picnic shelter, an electric well, and a 17-site rustic equestrian campground. This campground allows RV visitors to spend extra time exploring the park on horseback while they sleep in the great outdoors. There is also a privately-operated riding stable on the park grounds. The riding stable offers rentals, lessons, and guided trail rides.

Boating and Fishing

There are several lakes located within the Brighton Recreation Area, so fishing and boating are very popular activities at this park. Bishop Lake has a large fishing pier a short distance from the boat launch and is an excellent spot for paddling and fishing. The lake connects to Caroga Lake via a small channel that is accessible to small boaters seeking more water exploration. The lake is surrounded by forested shoreline that provides solitude and chances to view wildlife. Campers can rent canoes, kayaks, and other small water craft from May to September. There are boat launches on Chilson, Appleton, Bishop, and Chenango lakes and an EZ Launch Accessible Transfer system is also available on Bishop Lake. This system allows park guests in wheelchairs to easily transfer to a canoe or kayak.

Jump Island

Jump Island offers the ultimate waters sport experience filled with action-packed adventures. This vibrant attraction allows RV visitors to run, jump, and explore the excitement of a floating aqua park. The water park offers many obstacle course challenges. Features include a 14-foot inflatable iceberg, 16-foot slide, and runways that use your abilities to balance, walk, run, and slide on water. Due to safety guidelines, all island participants must be 48-inches or taller.

Off-Season

Metal Detecting

Metal detecting is considered a recreational activity at Brighton Recreation Area and can be a surprisingly addictive hobby. Metal detecting must be conducted carefully in order to not damage natural and cultural resources and is only allowed in designated areas. Finds include coins, jewelry, and historical artifacts. The park staff must review any items found and these items may be retained for further investigation. Metal detecting areas within the campground are limited to registered campers only.

Hunting

Brighton Recreational Area has an abundant wildlife population and hunting is allowed during legal seasons. There is no summer hunting at the park and fall hunting season begins around mid-September and ends at the end of March. Area wildlife game includes Turkey, Deer, and Rabbit. The park is also open to trapping. There are many rules and regulations about hunting on state land so be sure you have the proper license and know the rules before heading out.

Cross-Country Skiing

While rowing and swimming are activities that use every major muscle group, you can’t row or swim at Brighton Recreation Area during a cold Michigan winter! Therefore, cross-country skiing is the perfect winter sport that provides an excellent cardio workout. There are two styles of cross-country skiing, traditional and skate skiing. Traditional cross-country skiers keep their skis pointed straight forward and their feet do not have to leave the ground. Skate skiing involves movements closer to those of roller skating. Whichever style you prefer, enjoy the peacefulness of floating across the snow.

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