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A classic SE Michigan loop that makes for a beautiful hike.


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Map Key

17.5

Miles

28.1

KM

Loop

995' 303 m

High

883' 269 m

Low

787' 240 m

Up

783' 239 m

Down

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

9%

Max Grade (5°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

Family Friendly It's a long loop, but if you just want to take this in sections, the terrain is pretty easy for dogs, families, etc.

No camping along the trail except at the Blind Lake backpacker campground. Use caution during hunting season even though there are no closure dates or anything like that. The trail just closes whenever the park does (typically between dusk and dawn).

Overview

The Potawatomi Trail is a real classic in Southeast Michigan, one of the longest and oldest loops in the area. A lot of mountain bikers use it, but it is still pedestrian friendly. I'd suggest going counter-clockwise in order to avoid hiking in the same direction as the bikers.

Description

The trailhead is pretty hard to miss, just before the large parking lot at the Silver Lake swimming access. Once on the trail, you'll immediately ascend a small hill and cross a road. At the first junction, keep left (right takes you along the Silver Lake Trail).

All the other junctions are pretty hard to get confused. The trail is well-marked, with distance markers every quarter mile or so. Use the Hiking Project mobile app if you're confused. You can also shave off a little less than five miles if you take the Potawatomi Shortcut Trail north of Halfmoon Lake.

It is a very scenic trail with lots of views and variety. It is rolling through glacial hills and moraines, and there are some obvious eskers and erratics throughout the hike. There are lots of lakes and some streams as well. All water crossings have wooden bridges across them, so you shouldn't get wet, unless it is a particularly muddy time of year. It makes for a great winter hike, too!

Flora & Fauna

Typical recovering Michigan deciduous forest, with maples, oaks and hickories dominating. Some pines as well.

Contacts

Shared By:

Dylan Graves with improvements by Greg Filip

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 47 votes

#215

Overall
  4.6 from 47 votes
5 Star
66%
4 Star
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3 Star
6%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
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#1

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#215

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26,668 Since May 16, 2015
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Photos

A working water pump!
Apr 9, 2017 near Chelsea, MI
Trail through Pinckney State Park
Apr 23, 2019 near Pinckney, MI
One of the wooden path sections.
Apr 9, 2017 near Pinckney, MI
Watch a Video Tour and Review of Crooked Lake Trail in the Pinckney Recreation Area
Oct 21, 2020 near Pinckney, MI
Singletrack through the woods on the Potawatomi Trail.
Apr 9, 2017 near Pinckney, MI
A bridge aids your passage over the water about 8 miles in.
Jun 25, 2017 near Pinckney, MI
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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 97 days ago
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Check-Ins

Aug 29, 2023
Riley ORyan
17.5mi — 7h 45m
May 13, 2022
Joseph Rettell
Feb 18, 2021
Valorie Thomas Joy
I did move to that area on Patterson lake road just for my dog, Joey. We walked but you can park discreetly at the end of the road and walk the trail 10mi — 5h 00m
Oct 25, 2020
Kaitlin Conner
With Elizabeth! 18mi — 6h 37m
Aug 24, 2020
Megan Wallen
Feb 16, 2020
Mark D
The trail was in good condition, snow covered most of the way, much of it packed down so it was a little slick. Traction control devices like yak t… 17.5mi — 6h 00m
Oct 19, 2019
Fannie Fan
Aug 19, 2019
Nino Toigo
Best friend wanted to hike this trail for his birthday. So we did. And it was just as awesome as much as it sucked 17.4mi — 8h 48m
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