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Holly Recreation Area: Lakeshore Trail
A quick glance at a map and the Lakeshore Trail appears to be a hike through the beaches and day-use areas of the Holly Recreation Area, a walk along the park road where you would be tripping over picnic baskets and beer coolers on a hot summer day. This trail is true to its name. It skirts the shoreline of Valley and Wildwood Lakes. But it remains on the edge of the water, well below the park road that follows ridges, and for the most part it’s a scenic route along the wooded banks of these impoundments, not through family re-unions and company picnics.
The trailhead for the 2.4-mile is posted in a parking lot reached just before crossing the spillway that separates Heron Lake and Wildwood Lake. You can also begin at the Overlook Picnic Area for a 2.5-mile hike that begins with a descent to lower lake levels. Or from the Heron Lake Beach, where on the east end of the day-use area an the unmarked Beach Trail follows the east arm of the lake for 0.3 mile before popping out of the woods across the park road from the trailhead. This would be a 3-mile hike that would end by backtracking the Beach Trail.
The Lakeshore Trail is posted in a clockwise direction with a path leaving the parking area to the east and immediately skirting just above Wildwood Lake. Within a couple hundred yards you arrive at post No. 19, the junction where the trail from Overlook Picnic Area arrives at the loop. The next segment, the 0.4 miles to the Wildwood Beach, is the only portion away from the park road as you follow the east short of the lake.
The Wildwood Picnic Area, with bathrooms, picnic tables and drinking water follows the beach and is reached at 0.8 miles into the hike. The next two posts, No. 22 and No. 23 are also located in picnic areas but beyond them is another interesting segment of the loop. The trail stays close to the west bank of Valley Lake but the park road is well above you. You can enjoy the water without having to see or even listen to the vehicles of other visitors.
This stretch lasts 0.7 miles before you arrive at the spillway. A narrow path hugs the east side of the spillway and returns you to the trailhead parking lot. Almost directly across the park road the Beach Trail is posted and leads to the Heron Lake day-use area.
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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