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Allegan SGA: Ely Lake Trails

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Trail Details

County
Allegan
Regions
Lake Michigan
Latitude
N 42° 32' 0.96"
Longitude
W 086° 02' 5.28"
Distance
0.3 mile to 1.5 miles
Trail Type
Foot path, two-track
Terrain
Inland lakes, marshes, hardwood forests
Difficulty
Easy to moderate
Nearest City or Town
Allegan
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It’s hard not to love Ely Lake Campground. The rustic facility is managed by Allegan County and features 73 sites spread out in the hardwood forests that enshroud the lake, providing shade in the summer and brilliant colors in the fall. But the best thing about Ely Lake is its location, it lies in Michigan’s largest state game area. And extending from the campground in almost every direction are trails that wander through a variety of habitats and natural features.
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Description
It’s hard not to love Ely Lake Campground. The rustic facility is managed by Allegan County and features 73 sites spread out in the hardwood forests that enshroud the lake, providing shade in the summer and brilliant colors in the fall. There is a swimming beach, sites for RVs and a boat launch for kayakers and canoers to enjoy non-motorized waters at the door step of their campsite.

But the best thing about Ely Lake is its location, it lies in Michigan’s largest state game area. And extending from the campground in almost every direction are trails that wander through a variety of habitats and natural features.

There are seven hiking trails accessible from the campground plus one for equestrians and they feature the most varied landscape you will see in the Allegan State Game Area, from mature forests to seasonal wetlands.  The main trail from the campground is the Ely Lake Loop Trail which skirts the forested shoreline around the inland lake for 1.2 miles, providing access to several other trails.

Departing from the Ely Lake loop are sections of the Wakazoo Trail, Little Tom Trail, Two-Track Trail and Fallen Forest Trail connecting to even more trails. Most of the campground trails are relatively flat, short and easy to explore. But many do traverse wetlands and marshes, great places to spot wildflowers and wildlife, but they can be wet in the spring and early summer.
Amenities & Services
Camping
Difficulty - Easy
Difficulty - Moderate
Dog Friendly
Foot Path
Trail Guide

Ely Lake Loop Trail

Ely Lake Loop Trail follows the shoreline of its namesake lake for a 1.2-mile hike. A good place to pick up the path is where it crosses the access road to the boat launch in the campground. Following it in a clockwise direction the loop reaches a junction within 0.3 mile with Little Tom Lake Trail a popular route to the small lake to the south. Ely Lake Loop Trail continues to follow the shoreline of the lake and is marked with trail signs at most junctions.

Little Tom Lake Trail

Little Tom Lake Trail is a popular hike even though it can be wet in the spring. Be prepared or wait until by June when it’s usually dry. The trail is accessed from Ely Lake Loop Trail where it’s a half mile walk to the boat launch on the small, non-motorized lake. You can then return to the Ely Lake Loop Trail via Fallen Forest Trail for a 1.5-mile hike that leads you pass several interesting wetlands.

Fallen Forest Trail

This trail connects Little Tom Lake with the Ely Lake Loop Trail and is often combined with Little Tom Lake Trail for a 1.5-mile hike. Fallen Forest is marked with yellow dots and yellow plastic ties in the area of fallen trees. Along the way it passes a lost cemetery, find it if you can.

Little Tom Swamp Trail

This short trail, only a third of a mile, extends from Wakazoo Trail near the campground to the two-track and boat launch on Little Tom Lake. In between it passes through a pair of marshes and is often wet in the spring. Little Tom Swamp Trail is lightly used but like the other trails in the area is usually dry by June.

Crooked Lake Loop Trail

Crooked Lake Loop Trail is not connected to Ely Lake Loop Trail but is reached from the two-track to Little Tom Lake. Within a 0.3 mile from the south loop of the campground or 0.8 mile from 116th Avenue, the trail is marked by a red gate that blocks vehicle traffic. The loop that makes for a mile-long hike to Crooked Lake.

Facilities

Ely Lake Campground offers contains 73 rustic campsites of which 16 are open to equestrian campers. Unlike many campgrounds in southern Michigan, Ely Lake is heavily forested, making it ideal as a tent and hammock campground while the abundance of trees also provide privacy between campers.

Amenities include vault toilets, hand pumps for drinking water, picnic area, swimming beach and a boat launch on Ely Lake, which is non-motorized.

Hours & Fees

Ely Lake Campground is open year-round. Campsites are $17.85 a night and can be reserved in advance through ReserveAmerica.

Directions

The entrance to Ely Lake Campground is at 5020 116th Ave., 3 miles west of the South Swan Creek Loop Trailhead.

Information

Call the Allegan State Game Area Headquarters (269-673-2430) or stop at the office at 4590 118th Ave at the corner of 118th Avenue and 46th Street.

For more information on Ely Lake Campground contact Allegan County Parks and Recreation Commission (269-673-0205).


Geo-referenced maps from MichiganTrailMaps.com range from $1.99 to $2.99 each.

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