Ortonville Recreation Area

Need some quiet time and space to roam? There is plenty of that in Michigan - over 13,000 miles of trails according to the Michigan DNR. No matter where you are, you're not far from a wooded hike. In my home base of Haslett, I've got plenty to choose from, but I like to mix it up a bit. So on a cool, sunny Saturday, I made the hour-drive to Ortonville Recreation Area in beautiful Ortonville, MI.

If you're like 90% of the people in the state and don't know where Ortonville is, it's southeast of Flint. I must admit I've never seen the actual town, as both times I've been to the area it was solely to visit the trail. But I'm sure the people are very nice there.

The trailhead is just north of State Park Road, a dirt road with trees stretching across it. If you are looking for the trails on Google Maps (or you mapping application of choice), search for "Ortonville trailhead", and that will get you to the right spot. If you look for "Ortonville Recreation Area", that will point you several miles east of the trails and you'll be sad because you'll not be where you want to. I've heard.

Once you find the parking area, the trails themselves are well-defined, with markers and maps at each intersection. This is a hard trail to get lost on. I'm not saying you couldn't do it, but you'd need to really try. There is one big loop, with another trail about splitting the trail roughly in half. And hills - oh, so many hills. My route took me around the loop, then added another half-loop by taking the middle trais for a bonus partial loop, and my Garmin fitness tracker showed I had climbed 50 flights of stairs.

It had been a wet-ish spring, but there was only one or two spots where the mud was a bit thick. Otherwise, it was firm, clear footing. The trails are mostly in the woods with the occasional break through a meadow. I took an early spring hike, and there were just the hints of blooms, so everything was still very brown. Taking the trail counter-clockwise is the standard direction, and you should avoid most traffic by heading that way.