Pinckney Recreation Area
Guide

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Introduction

Park your RV, grab your bike, and hit the trails. Pinckney Recreation Area was one of the first parks to welcome off-road cyclists on its trail system. Now, over 115,000 riders head to the park every year. From spring to fall, if the weather is favorable, you’re sure to see lots of cyclists coming and going from the trailhead parking lot near the Silver Lake Day-use Area. Experienced cyclists will appreciate a challenging and technical ride navigating hills and ridges. The most popular trail for advanced bikers is the Potawatomi Trail. Less experienced bikers will prefer the Silver Lake Trail.

During the warmer months, campers can fish, swim, or picnic at one of the parks many lakes and day-use areas. Volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and a fishing pier are located at Silver Lake beach along with concessions, boat rentals, and a trail system. Halfmoon Lake has a boat launch, picnic shelters, and a playground area. Both Silver Lake and Halfmoon Lake feature beaches and swimming.

The Bruin Lake Modern Campground is the only campground in the park with RV parking spaces available. This campground is open from March to November, but the park is open year-round. RV campers are sure to enjoy the adventure that awaits them at Michigan's Pinckney Recreation Area.

RV Rentals in Pinckney Recreation Area

Transportation in Pinckney Recreation Area

Driving

Pinckney Recreation Area stretches from M-52 near its southwest border to M-36 in the northeast. The park is spread out and includes sections of private land, so there are many homes and cottages along the larger lakes. The park straddles the Livingston and Washtenaw County line with several paved and gravel county roads run throughout.

Winding between the lakes and through forests of oak trees is the 26-mile trail system for mountain bikers, hikers, and backpackers. Enjoy a short hike or, if you like a challenge, there are two-day and three-day backpacking trails too. Some trails allow both hikers and cyclists so use caution. The park also has several horseback riding trails. Small boats can travel through the park on the streams and channels that connect the seven lakes.

Mountain biking brings over 115,000 riders a year to Pinckney Recreation Area. Riders from cycle-crazy Ann Arbor and the Detroit metropolitan area, along with others from neighboring states, enjoy the challenging rides over numerous hills and ridges. The Potawatomi Trail is the toughest ride and several biking accidents occur each summer so be careful. Call the park headquarters for trail conditions.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Pinckney Recreation Area

Campsites in Pinckney Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Crooked Lanke Campground

Crooked Lake is a smaller campground with 22 sites that can fit smaller RVs and trailer, as well as tents of any size. This is an excellent choice for those wanting to enjoy a rustic experience since there are no hookups here. You will be close to all the action on Crooked Lane, though including a fishing pier and boat launch. A water spigot and vault toilets are centrally located as well. You'll have a picnic table and fire ring at your campsite. Plus, campsites are pet-friendly.

Bruin Lake Modern Campground

There’s something for the entire family to do while RV camping at Bruin Lake Modern Campground. There’s a playground for the kids, a boat launch so dad can take his boat out and do a little fishing, and a beach where mom can relax and soak in the sun. Even the family pet can join in on the fun since the sites are pet-friendly.

Bruin Lake Modern Campground is open from the end of March through November and features 186 sites with electric hookups (20/30 and 50 amp available). Each site has a picnic table and a grill. Flush toilets, showers, and a sanitation station are nearby. The campground also includes a camper cabin and yurt that may be rented.

Several parking lots are located to the southeast and southwest sides of the campground with an additional parking lot on the west side. There are two centrally located restrooms. The playground, beach, and boat launch are all located on Bruin Lake to the southeast of the campground. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent from a local vendor. And the lake provides access to the other lakes in the park via channels and streams. RVs and trailers up to 65 feet long can be accommodated.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Pinckney Recreation Area

In-Season

Hiking and Backpacking

Don't forget to pack some sturdy hiking boots in your RV since there are many hiking trails to chose from at this state park, including the Crooked Lake and the Potawatomi trails.

There are also longer trails for backpackers. The Waterloo-Pinckney Trail is a three-day hike. There’s also the Potawatomi Trail that takes about nine hours to cover. Some backpackers break the hike in half and stay at the walk-in campground on Blind Lake, the halfway point, or in a rental yurt.

Swimming and Water Sports

Pinckney Recreation Area was shaped by glaciers that formed the seven park lakes that are connected by streams. Silver Lake, near the headquarters, is open to swimming, fishing, and boating. Crooked Lake is next to a rustic campground and has a boat launch but no swimming. Halfmoon Lake has a boat launch and a large swimming area. Pickerel Lake doesn’t have a very large beach, but some consider it one of the best swimming lakes in Michigan.

Mountain Biking

In the mid-1980s, Pinckney Recreation Area was one of the first parks to allow off-road cyclists to use its trail system. More than 115,000 riders come from all over Michigan and its surrounding states every year. The park has three single tracks: the two-mile Silver Lake Trail, the five-mile Crooked Lake Trail, and 17-mile Potawatomi Trail. The Potawatomi Trail is one of most difficult rides in Michigan. Bikers follow trails in a clockwise direction while hikers move counter-clockwise to avoid traffic flow problems. Cyclists can also ride on the paved shoulder of M-52 between Chelsea and Stockbridge. Always stay alert and obey traffic laws.

Off-Season

Horseback Riding

Even during warmer days of the off-season, Pinckney Recreation Area is a majestic setting for horseback riding. You can coast on horseback on over 13 miles of trails through unique ecosystems like forests and marshlands. You'll have access to a number of amenities as well including stables and a staging area.

Snowmobiling

Watch for the falling snow because you need at least four inches of snow on the ground if you want to go snowmobiling at Pinckney Recreation Area. State-designated snowmobile trails are open from December to March. Enjoy the diverse terrain and picturesque trails as you enjoy your winter adventure. Snowmobiling is only allowed in designated areas and never on the hiking trails.

Ice Fishing

Fish don’t stop biting just because it’s cold outside. Ice fishing opportunities abound whenever the lakes freeze so solidly that you can walk out on the ice and chip or drill holes in the ice. Silver, North, and South lakes are available for ice fishing in the park. Most people agree the ice should be at least four inches thick. Ice fishing is an excellent opportunity to spend quality time with your friends and family in the great outdoors. Never go on the water alone and layer your outerwear because it’s going to be cold!

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