20,000 Acres of Winter Adventure at Waterloo Recreation Area

20,000 acres. That is big. In fact, Waterloo Recreation Area is the largest state park in the lower peninsula of Michigan and filled with trails and 11 inland lakes. Every season offers its own unique experiences at Waterloo but this time we are specifically talking winter. 

DTE Energy Foundation Trail

Waterloo Recreation Area is located near Chelsea, Michigan and bout 20 miles west of Ann Arbor. The winter conditions were perfect for us to explore the area. We started off by going to the DTE Energy Foundation Trail to go fat biking. This is an awesome trail in every season and it was our first time experiencing it during winter. The fat bike trails were groomed perfectly and there are 3 different trails that add up to 12 miles of groomed fat biking trails. We decided to go with the 5.2 mile Green Lake Loop. The recent snowfall made for spectacular scenery. This trail is a must for fat biking fans. One recommendation is to pay attention to the trails website and social channels to make sure that it is open. The trail will close during certain conditions in order to keep it in the best shape possible. 

DTE Energy Trail fat biking

DTE Trail


@mi_playground Fatbiking the DTE trail in the Waterloo State Recreation Area #miplayground #michiganoutdoors #annarbor ♬ original sound - mi_playground


After biking we headed into Chelsea for coffee. It was our first time in the Chelsea and we went to Zou Zou's. Beyond good coffee options, they also had a great and unique tap list. We had our mind set on coffee for this visit but the unexpected beer options make it a great option for that as well. Next time!

With Waterloo Rec Area being 20,000 acres, there was more to do so we found a trail for snowshoeing and headed back out. We went to Mill Lake and did the Mill Lake Loop. Beyond the snowshoeing, there were people out ice fishing on the lake leading to another activity that seems popular at Waterloo. A portion of the Mill Lake Loop is shared with the biggest trail in the area, the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail This trail goes through two large rec areas, Waterloo and Pinckney. The trail is a point-to-point trail that is just under 34 miles long. 

Waterloo Recreation Area Snowshoeing

Waterlooo-Pinckney Trail

The recommendation here for hiking or snowshoeing is to pick a new spot each time or revisit the same spot in a different season. There are so many possibilities! 

After snowshoeing it was time to go find something to eat. After a bit of research we decided to go to Smokehouse 52. BBQ sounded perfect but there was something on the menu that we had to try as well and that was the Nashville hot chicken. The bbq was great but the Nashville hot chicken was the surprise star of the show. It is one of those meals that we will be going back there for!


@mi_playground Nashville Hot Chicken at smokehouse 52 in chelsea Michigan. #michiganfoodie #michiganbbq #chelseamichigan ♬ original sound - mi_playground


We have a lot more ideas for this area in all seasons and we can't wait to be back again! Check out the full video! 

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