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Proud Lake Recreation Area: Marsh Trail
This short and easy walk is ideal for children, even those as young as three or four years old. The small lake, technically an impoundment, provides them with something to constantly to look at while the eight interpretive panels along the trail, whose subjects range from dragonflies and turtles to herons, allow you to pass along a bit of wetland education. If it’s spring or fall, carry a pair of binoculars to search for wildlife and look at birds.
From the main trailhead in day-use parking lot pick up the Chief Pontiac Trail at its east end. In a few hundred yards the wide path reaches a well-posted junction where you head south (right) to quickly cross the park road. On the other side the Marsh Trail is marked with a large sign.
At this point the trail is basically a mile-long loop around the impoundment. Follow in a clockwise direction to save the best for last and in a quarter mile you’ll pass a couple of interpretive panels before coming to a bridge that crosses the outlet stream. The trail than skirts a bank above the south shore and arrives at a bench halfway along the loop. If it’s spring you can sit here and search for waterfowl and other migrating birds.
At the west end of the impoundment the trail uses a series of boardwalks and bridges to allow you to cut through the cattail marsh. This is another great spot to have children look and listen for wildlife. Uusdually there are a couple of muted swans nesting at this end of the marsh. Within a mile the loop returns you to the park road where you backtrack to the day-use parking area.
West of Wixom Road and north of the headquarters is Powers Beach, a small sandy beach and pond that was made by impounding the Huron River. There is a picnic area at Powers Beach with rental shelters. The park has a modern campground with 130 sites situated on an open bluff, from which there is a good view of Proud Lake throughout the camp ground. Facilities include two mini-cabins for rent and a separate beach and boat launch for campers. The campground is reached east from Wixom Road on Glengary Road and is well posted. There are no rustic sites at Proud Lake, but there is an organization camp.
Canoeing is a popular activity during the summer along the Huron River with many canoeists paddling from near Powers Beach to Kent Lake, a three to four-hour trip. Heavner Canoe Rental (248-685-2379; www.heavnercanoe.com) operates a canoe and kayak concession in the park across from Powers Beach and accessed by Garden Road, which departs west from Wixom Road. The livery also provides pick-up service to a number of locations along the river.
The park is open year round and a vehicle permit or annual state park pass is required to enter.
The recreation area is just east of Milford or 12 miles southwest of Pontiac and is reached from I-96 by taking the Wixom Road exit and heading north or from M-59 by turning south on Duck Lake Road.
For more information contact the park office (248-685-2433). You can reserve campsites or a mini-cabin through the Michigan State Park Central Reservation Service (800-44-PARKS; www.midnrreservations.com) or find out about upcoming events, including hikes and interpretive walks from Friends of Proud Lake (www.FriendsOfProudLake.org).
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