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Watkins Lake State Park & County Preserve

Other Link Michigan Department of Natural Resources site


  1. Parking
  2. Trails - Natural Ground, Unimproved

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 white farmers of the land, involvement in the Underground Railroad.

  • Acres: 1,122
  • Established: 2016
  • Trail Length: 5.8 miles

Note: A Recreation Passport is required for use of the parking 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

Currently, partners are working to develop the General Management Plan, which will consider a wide variety of recreational opportunities. While these 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.