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Holly Recreation Area: Whispering Pines Nature Trail
Most of McGinnis Lake Campground is grassy sites in a semi-open setting. The exception is the Trillium Loop whose sites are well spread out in a rolling woods, giving you both privacy and that feeling of camping up north. Located within this loop, directly across from site No. 127, is the Whispering Pines Nature Trail, a 0.5-mile interpretive trail.
This short trail is a pleasant leg-stretcher for anybody camping on the loop. It begins with a descent into a stand of red pine and then loops around a marshy kettle that can be beautiful in the fall before climbing back up to the campground. The entire walk is only 0.5 miles and scattered along it are six interpretive signs, no doubt only a fraction of what was originally erected here.
McGinnis Lake Campground offers 144 modern sites with electricity and restrooms and 15 rustic sites. The sites are spread out along five loops offering quite a bit of privacy though not much shade, as the campground is set up on open hills near McGinnis Lake. There is no swimming area or boat launch on the lake. Within the campground there are two mini-cabins.
The park’s day-use area is reached from a park entrance off McGinnis Road and contains five separate picnic areas, many with shelters and fine views of the water. Near the Sunset Picnic Shelter is the park’s disc golf course. There are swimming beaches on Heron and Wildwood lakes with picnic tables, grills and a bathhouse at each.
Within the recreation area is Rolston Cabin, an extremely scenic log structure situated on a small pond just off McGinnis Road. The six-bunk cabin has a hand pump for water and pit toilets but features electricity with lights, stove and refrigerator. The popular cabin, which can be reached by car, is heavily booked on weekends almost year-round.
The park is open year round, offering Nordic skiing in the winter, and a vehicle permit or annual state park pass is required to enter.
Holly Recreation Area, located 12 miles north of Pontiac, can be reached from I-75 by departing onto Grange Hall Road (exit 101). To the east just past Dixie Highway is the park headquarters. From here Grange Hall Road curves sharply to the north. Continuing east is McGinnis Road, which passes the entrances to the campground and the day-use areas on Heron and Valley lakes.
To reach the Holdridge Lakes Mountain Bike Area from I-75, depart at exit 101 and head west on Grange Hall Road. Within a quarter mile turn north on Hess Road and in 1.4 miles you will reach the posted trailhead and parking area.
Call the park at 248-634-8811 or stop at the office located at 8100 Grange Hall Rd. For a campsite or cabin reservation contact Michigan State Park Central Reservations (800-447-2757; www.midnrreservations.com).
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