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Holly Recreation Area
Located on the northern edge of Oakland County, Holly Recreation Area is a 7,817-acre state park that offers a wide variety of terrain on both sides of I-75. West side of the interstate Holly consists of fairly flat wooded lots, reverted orchards, tamarack swamp, small lakes and marsh bog.
Areas east of the highway feature heavily forested hills, second growth forests, the largest lakes, more wetlands and open fields that at one time were farmed. In all, Holly has 17 lakes and a handful of creeks and 30 miles of trails for both hikers and mountain bikers located not much more than 30 minutes from the urban areas between Flint and Pontiac.
Places to roam close to home.
The park is actually seven separate units with most of them totally undeveloped and frequent mostly by hunters during the fall seasons. The largest, most developed and thus most heavily used area is east of I-75 and includes McGinnis Lake north of McGinnis Road and Heron, Valley and Wildwood lakes south of it. Surrounding the lakes are the park’s campground, beaches, day-use areas, rental cabin and even a disc golf course.
This unit also contains the park’s hiking trails. The excellent Wilderness Trail Is a nearly 6-mile hike through and over the rolling ridges that surround McGinnis Lake while the 2.4-mile Lakeshore Trail connects the day-use areas and beach around Heron, Valley and Wildwood Lakes. Located in the McGinnis Lake Campground is the half-mile Whispering Pines Nature Trail.
In the 1994, mountain biking arrived at the park when volunteers from the Michigan Mountain Bike Association designed and constructed the Holdridge Lakes Mountain Area in a section of the park on the west side of I-75. What first began as a 7-mile trail system now totals more than 24 miles along three major loops.
The East Loop or Gruber’s Grinder is an 18-mile advanced single track which includes log jumps and off-camber climbs. The West Long Loop is the most scenic ride, a 4-mile single track that winds past three marshy lakes and features a steep hill on its backside. Beginners head for the North Loop, a 2.25-mile, easy loop through woods and fields, while the 1-mile Tech Loop completes the system. Red Loop.
Click on highlighted trails for individual trail page:
Whispering Pines Nature Trail 0.5 mile Interpretive
Lakeshore Trail 2.4 miles Hike
Wilderness Trail 6.4 miles Hike
East Loop (Gruber’s Grinder) 18 miles Mountain Bike
West Long Loop 4.0 miles Mountain Bike
North Loop 2.25 miles Mountain Bike
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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