Chelsea is a charming small town in of itself, but the outdoors also feature prominently in the area. The town is located around twenty minutes west of the vibrant college town of Ann Arbor via Interstate 94. Some of the town’s surrounding scenery is taken up by two state recreation areas – Waterloo and Pinckney. So, if you are looking to the outdoors for things to do in Chelsea, MI, you will want to visit these two scenic areas.
Waterloo State Recreation Area
Waterloo State Recreation Area is located to the west of Chelsea. This is the largest park in the Lower Peninsula of the US state of Michigan and the third largest in the state overall. The recreation area is home to 20,000 acres of forest, lakes, and wetlands. It is notable for its premiere mountain biking trails. The most well known of the trails for mountain biking is the DTE Energy Foundation Trail.
The overall length of this trail is ten miles. This single track trail is known as a “flow trail” because it is mechanically cut in order to create highly structured grades and outslopes. Technical, downhill, and climbing features go into the trail’s design. The trail is intended to suit mountain bikers of varying experience levels. There are four loops on this trail.
They are the Green Lake Loop with a length of 5.2 miles, Big Kame Loop with a length of 4.75 miles, Winn Loop with a length of 8 miles, and Sugar Loop with a length of 4 miles. The Sugar Loop is the newest and most technical segment of the trail. There are two trailheads from where to start your mountain biking journey on the trail. The first one is located on North M-52 and the second one is located on Cassidy Road.
Fishing is another popular activity within the recreation area. There are a total of eleven lakes that are available for you to fish at. The most common types of fish that can be lured out are bass, panfish, and pike. Dedicated fishing piers are available on Big Portage Lake and Crooked Lake. Fishing can also be done via a boat. Certain lakes will have public boat launches for you to slip your boat onto the water if you have one.
If you don’t own a boat, you can rent one at Big Portage Lake. The recreation area also feature the Gerald E. Eddy Discover Center. This is basically a museum that consists of exhibits that showcase the geology and natural habitats of the recreation area – both in the present day and during the pre-settler days.
Pinckney State Recreation Area
Pinckney State Recreation Area is located to the north of Chelsea. It is connected to Waterloo State Recreation Area by the 35-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Trail. The terrain of this recreation area consists of open grasslands, hilly oak forests, and lowlands with shrub swamps. Lakes are also a common sight within the recreation area. In fact, there are over twenty lakes located there.
The recreation area is noted for its extensive system of trails. In total, there are over forty miles of multi-use trails available for you to use within the recreation area. They include Pinckney-Crooked Lake Trail, Pinckney-Equestrian Trails, Pinckney-Losee Lake Trail, Pinckney-Potawatomi Trail, and Pinckney-Silver Lake Trail. These trails are in addition to the Pinckney-Waterloo Trail that I mentioned earlier.
As is the case with the first recreation area, fishing is popular within this recreation area. Those of you who are looking for piers to fish from can find them on Silver Lake and Crooked Lake. Silver Lake also has shore fishing if you prefer it that way. There are two public beaches available at Silver Lake and Halfmoon Lake if you want to go swimming, but don’t have a boat to jump off of.
For those of you who do have boats, improved boat launches are plentiful. They are found at Bruin Lake, Halfmoon Lake, South Lake, North Lake, Joslin Lake, and Portage Lake. It is worth noting that if you go boating via a boat launch via either Bruin Lake or Halfmoon Lake, you will be able to access a chain of seven lakes. Also, if you want to go boating, but don’t own a boat, you can rent one at Silver Lake.
If you want to have lunch and enjoy the scenery. There are picnic areas available at Silver Lake and Halfmoon Lake. There are also volley courts, horseshoe pits, and playgrounds available at both of these lakes for you to play in. For those of you who need to change clothes and/or want to take a shower while you are in the recreation area, there is a beach house available at Silver Lake.
So, outdoors enthusiasts will want to take in the scenery in these two state recreation areas for things to do in Chelsea, MI. Also, if you are still hungry for more to do once you have already hit the outdoors, I would suggest that you travel east to nearby Ann Arbor for some downtown fun.
Also, the sweeping University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is home to some world-class museums. So, they are well worth checking out too.
If you are looking for a hotel to stay overnight during your time in the area, I am happy to help you out with this. Here is a hotel that I would suggest for you.
Baymont by Wyndham Chelsea
This hotel is located on Commerce Park Drive just north of its interchange with Interstate 94 in Chelsea. This will put you within easy distance to the two state recreation areas as well as Ann Arbor. The hotel offers free breakfast. Should you get hungry, nearby dining options include Thompson’s Pizzeria, Uptown Coney Island, and Arctic Breakaway Restaurant & Bar.
The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool. A fitness center is also available at the hotel for your workout needs. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, coffee makers, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $88 to $160. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.
What are your thoughts? Are you looking to go on an outdoors adventure in these two state recreation areas? Feel free to leave a comment below.