Exploring the Waterloo State Recreation Area and Downtown Jackson

Waterloo State Recreation is big. It's Not just kinda big, it's really big! At over 21,000 acres, it is the largest state rec area/park in the lower peninsula of Michigan. We set up our visit to stay in Jackson and get out to explore some of the lakes and trails inside of Watrerloo. 

First off, there are 11 lakes, and we knew we wouldn't get to all of them during this visit, so we started at Mill Lake. This lake is totally surrounded by nature and we were told it was great for fishing and is 163 acres. As we arrived, someone pulling their kayak out told us that he had never been skunked (skunked means caught no fish!) on Mill Lake. That led to a level of confidence heading out. Not only was the lake and surrounding beautiful, we also caught some fish! We always have a great time fishing from our paddleboards! According to the discovery center located inside of Waterloo, there are bass, bluegill and pike. 

Waterloo State Rec Area Mill Lake

Nick was using a new collapsable fishing rod with little success and actually dropped it in the lake and had to go in to retrieve it for his best catch of the day. 

Mill Lake Fishing

Next up, we decided to go biking on the DTE Energy Foundation Trails. We had heard a lot of good things about these trails. There are multiple loops that can be combined together depending on how far you feel like riding for 20+ total miles. We rode the Green Lake Loop. This trail was a lot of fun with great flow and was 5.9 miles.  

DTE Energy Foundation Trail

DTE Energy Foundation Trail

Back in Jackson, we went to RJ's Metropolitan Ice Cream. Going there, we thought we would be getting ice cream. Once we walked in, someone in line asked us if we were there for the burgers, which, at the time, we were not but quickly changed our minds after being told the burgers were amazing. We were happy that we were pushed towards a burger! This thing was so good and we have been thinking about them every day since our visit. Don't worry, we also got ice cream too!

RJ's Metropolitan Ice Cream

Jackson Michigan Restaurants

After the food, we were back inside of Waterloo at Portage Lake to play the disc golf course and finish the day with one of our favorite things, a calm evening paddle. 

Portage Lake

Once back in Jackson we stopped by Ogma Brewing for a flight and nachos. This brewery had a very cool skateboard/punk/metal theme and is a good stop downtown and happens to also be right next to RJ's so you can stop at both! A nice feature to go along with the theme are the flight holders that look to be made of old skateboard decks. 

Ogma Brewing Jackson

Ogma Brewing Jackson

One thing that is so unique about downtown Jackson are all of the murals. These are from a multi-year festival that has transformed the look of downtown Jackson. We find the murals amazing and enjoy walking through the city checking out the work from artists who came from all over the world. There are maps throughout the city the will guide you to different murals and there is actually a finale to the festival happening September 8-11. The nice thing is, these will be here for whenever you want to see them!

downtown Jackson

Bright Walls Jackson

city of roses

You can check out our full video from our adventure here!

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