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Tradition says that Michigan has 11,000 lakes. The eastern section of the Lakelands Trail State Park passes through a chain of them as it rolls from the town of Hamburg and Lakeland to Munith some 26 miles away. In fact, Hamburg Township, where the trail starts, is 10% covered in water.
The trail, dating to the 1990s, is in various stages of improvement. Asphalt covers the eastern 7.5 miles from Hamburg to MI 36 west of Pinckney; the next 4 miles to the township line near Barton Road and MI 36 is hard limestone; slag and sand comprise the surface for the next 9 miles into Stockbridge; and the final 5 miles southwest to Munith is open but mostly unimproved. Horseback riding is permitted in the trail corridor, but snowmobiles and off-road vehicles are prohibited.
Short-range plans call for extending the trail southwest to Parnall Road in Jackson and improving the soft surface to hard limestone. Also, connections to the cross-state Iron Belle Trail (north–south) and Great Lake-to-Lake Trail (east–west) are in the works.
The Lakelands Trail follows a section of the former Michigan Air Line Railroad opened in 1884 as part of a planned rail line across southern Michigan. It was absorbed by the Grand Trunk Western Railroad in 1928 and became disused in the 1970s.
Beginning at the trailhead on Hamburg Road, you’ll leave from Winkelhaus Park, the site of the old Hamburg House Hotel from about 1835 to 1968. The trail heads east for 0.7 mile and ends in the woods. A future connection to South Lyon is planned.
Heading west, the trail is paved as it passes sports fields at Manly Bennett Park and Zukey Lake, one of a chain of eight lakes in the Huron River watershed, and home to a well-known lakeside tavern dating back to the 1930s. You’ll continue through a growing residential area to a trailhead and old railroad depot at Pearl Street in Pinckney, about 7.5 miles from the eastern trailhead. Four miles south is the 11,000-acre Pinckney Recreation Area, known for its mountain biking trails.
The Lakelands Trail changes to hard-packed limestone about a mile west of Pinckney as the countryside becomes mostly farmland and forest. The trail brushes the northern edge of the 535-acre University of Michigan Edwin S. George Reserve, a fenced research and educational preserve.
Crossing MI 36 again, the trail surface deteriorates and is more suitable for horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking for the next 8 miles through the small burg of Gregory to Stockbridge, where the trail veers southwest. You’ll find trail parking on South Clinton Street and places to eat a few blocks north.
Improvements to the trail are complete in Stockbridge, which has paved the trail section running through the village. Beyond Stockbridge, the trail has been extended to a trailhead on Hawkins Road, between Munith and Jackson, in Jackson County. This section is surfaced with limestone gravel.
In 2018, the trail was renamed the Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park for a Michigan trail champion and donor.
To reach the eastern trailhead on Hamburg Road from US 23 heading north, take Exit 53 toward Hamburg/Whitmore Lake. Turn left onto Eight Mile Road, and go 1.3 miles. Bear right to continue onto Hall Road for 0.2 mile, and then bear left at the Y onto Sheldon Road for 0.4 mile. Keep right to continue onto Hamburg Road for 1.2 miles. Look for parking at Winkelhaus Park, on your right. The trail dead-ends 0.7 mile to the east.
The best access point for the western endpoint is the Stockbridge trailhead, as few improvements to the trail have been made between Stockbridge and Munith, and there is no dedicated parking lot for the trail in Munith. From I-94, take Exit 150 onto Mount Hope Road, heading north. Go 5.7 miles, and veer right at the intersection to stay on Mount Hope Road. Go 2.5 miles, and turn right onto MI 106 N. Go 3.6 miles to Stockbridge, where MI 106 becomes S. Clinton St., and turn right onto S. Center St. Look for parking on the right. The trail’s western endpoint is on Hawkins and Jordan Road (Jackson).
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