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Watkins Lake State Park & County Preserve

Other Link Michigan Department of Natural Resources site


  1. Birdwatching
  2. Fishing (license required)
  3. Parking
  4. Picnic Tables
  5. Trails - Natural Ground, Unimproved
  6. Trails - Stone

About Watkins Lake State Park & County Preserve

Watkins Lake State Park & County Preserve is a popular watchable-wildlife destination and features beautiful rolling land covered in a mixture of open meadow, mixed hardwoods, low wetland areas, open water, and the property’s most popular feature, Watkins Lake. Watkins Lake has been designated a Waterfowl Refuge by MDNR due to the significant habitat provided for migrating and breeding birds; many species of ducks, geese, grebes, and more may be seen, especially in spring and fall. The park also has historic value due to Royal and Sally Carpenter Watkins' (the first farmers of the land of European descent) involvement in the Underground Railroad.

  • Acres: 1,122
  • Established: 2015
  • Trail Length: 5.8 miles

Note: A State of Michigan Recreation Passport is required for parking in the lot.

Watkins Lake State Park and County Preserve is the result of a unique partnership between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and 

Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission (WCPARC). The MDNR owns 717 acres of land in Norvell Township, Jackson County, while WCPARC owns 405 acres in Manchester Township, primarily through WCPARC's Natural Areas Preservation Program

Master Plan


In the summer of 2018, WCPARC and MDNR officials adopted the General Management Plan for the park.  While recreational opportunities are being developed, the partners have opened five miles of trail that follows the former railroad grade from a parking lot off Arnold Road to grasslands in the eastern portion of the preserve. 


Directions: At Sharon Hollow Road and Austin Road intersection west of Manchester, take Sharon Hollow south to Herman Road, then Herman west to Horning Road. Take a right onto Horning, and in .2 miles, turn right onto Arnold Road. The parking lot will be on your right past the lake.