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Indian Springs Metropark
The sign said it all: Rattlesnake Habitat. Remain on Trail!
Indian Springs may have a golf course, picnic areas, an Environmental Discovery Center and a Spray 'n' Play recreation area, but first and foremost it’s a swamp preserving the marshy headwaters of the Huron River. In this park Mother Nature is first, man-made amenities a distant second.
Located 9 miles northwest of Pontiac in Oakland County, Indian Springs was established in 1982 to preserve the last major section of the Huron Swamp and is one of 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks. Much of the 2,215-acre park is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the natural environment and includes both a nature center and a Environmental Discovery Center. The EDC is a 20,000-square-foot building overlooking 60 acres of ponds, wetlands and prairies and is filled with exhibits and observation areas including an underwater pond viewing room.
The heart of the park, however, is the swampy headwaters of the Huron River and is explored by a network of trails both paved and unpaved and on foot or by bicycles and inline skates. The park’s most popular trail is its paved Hike-Bike Trail that departs from the Meadowlark Picnic Area and extends to the northwest corner of the park for a round trip of eight miles
Departing from the nature center are six miles of self-guided nature trails. Woodland Trail is the longest at 3.5 miles and the most interesting by far, leading you to Timberland Lake. Farmland Trail extends 1.5 miles to the east while Pondside Trail is a interpretive walk of only 0.3 miles along a hard surface. Departing from the EDC are the Discovery Trails, a series of three short trails, all less than quarter mile long.
As is the case with all Huron-Clinton Metroparks, you’ll find the trails well posted and maintained with boardwalks and bridges to keep you out of the mud. Most of the foot trails are either mowed lanes or surfaced with gravel. During the winter the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing, totaling nearly 12 miles, when there is sufficient snow.
Click on highlighted trails for individual trail page:
Discovery Trails 0.22 miles Interpretive
Pondside Trail 0.3 miles Paved
Farmland Trail 1.5 miles Hike
Woodland Trail 3.5 miles Hike
Crosscut Shortcut 0.75 miles Hike
Hunters Ridge Shortcut 1.25 miles Hike
Sawmill Shortcut 2 miles Hike
Hike-Bike Trail 8 miles Paved
The Meadowlark Picnic Area has two shelters that can be rented along with tables, grills, a wood playscape, volleyball court and horseshoe pit. Adjacent to picnic area is Spray N’ Play which children can get soaked in the water spray area, climb a rock wall or a cargo net, or find their way through a maze. The toddler area includes a painted labyrinth and a sand pit with oversized scoopers for digging. Indian Springs also features a 6,707 yard, par-71, 18-hole regulation golf course (248-625-7870) with a driving range and club rental.
Completed in 2005 at a cost of more than $12 million (which included the Spray n’ Play park), the Environmental Discovery Center is a showcase interpretive area with a flaw. The facility overlooks a man-made pond and it most notable feature is a tunnel and glass viewing room that was designed to provide visitors a below-the-water view of pond life, including native Michigan fish and plants. But an algae problem in the pond has resulted in visibility of usually less than a foot and most people leave the room seeing little if anything. Still the wetland exhibits on the top two floors are interesting and make for a good place to start for families with young children.
The Indian Spring Nature Center is also an attractive building that uses solar energy for heat and has natural lighting. Along with bathrooms, lounge, and a classroom, there are interesting exhibits, both hands-on and live animal displays. One, entitled “The Huron River from Ice to Erie,” traces the history of the river and diagrams its 115-mile route from its mouth in Lake Erie to its headwaters, the Huron Swamp that lies just outside.
Indian Springs is open from 8 a.m. to dusk daily and the Environmental Discovery Center is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Memorial Day to Labor Day and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the rest of the year. The nature center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. daily in the summer and 1-5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends during the school year. The Spray N' Play is open year round, with the water spray area open Memorial Day to Labor Day. A vehicle permit fee is required to enter the park.
The park can be reached from M-24 (Dixie Highway) in Clarkston by heading west on White Lake Road and following the park signs 5 miles to the posted entrance along White Lake Road. It can also be reached from M-59 by turning north on Ormond Road and then east on White Lake Road.
Contact the Environmental Discovery Center (248-625-6640), the park office (800-477-3192) or the Metroparks Authority at 800-477-2757 or (www.metroparks.com).
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