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What you need to know about Mike Levine Lakelands Trail – Michigan Bicycle Trails

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Mike Levine Lakelands Trail is a multipurpose rail-trail in southeastern Michigan that runs from Hawkings (few miles northeast of Jackson) all the way to town of Hamburg (south of Brighton and west of US 23).

Trail end
Trail’s east end at Whitmore Lake Road.

Mike Levine Lakelands Trail

The trail is little over 34 miles long and it is very flat. In my round trip of 70 miles along the whole trail, my GPS show total of ONLY 765 ft of elevation gain! About 1/3 of it is asphalt covered, and the rest is dirt with fine limestone. As you can see from the pictures below, some parts of the trail look like a dirt two-track. The first paved section is the first eleven miles from the east, all the way through Pinckney. The second – about a mile through Stockbridge.

Paved trail
Paved trail section with crushed limestone path for horses next to it.
Two-track section
Two-track section of the trail.

Trail Usage

Mike Levine Lakelands Trail is used by walkers, runners, bikers and for horseback riding. So, do not be surprised if you run into riders on horseback. In my ride along the whole length of the trail and back, I only encountered one horseback riding party. But horseback riding on the trail has to be quite popular judging from the evidence of frequent horse “deposits” on the trail. Therefore, be cautious when approaching horses… I always ask the riders how they want me to proceed as they usually know their horses well.

The trail is not busy at all. So, if you are looking for a relaxed ride, it is a perfect choice. The busiest, at least in my experience, was the section around Hamburg. Otherwise, I often rode for few miles without running into anybody.

Horseback riders
People on horseback on the Mike Levine Lakelands Trail.

Part of a Bigger Trail

The Mike Levine Lakelands Trail is part of the new Lake-to-Lake Trail Route #1 from South Haven to Port Huron. Therefore, it surprised me that in my seven hours spent on the trail, I only saw one guy bikepacking, and none touring. So, it seems that the Lake-to-Lake trail is not that popular yet.

The Scenery

The trail is called the “Lakelands” trail, and it is located in the area of many lakes. However, you will be disappointed if you expect to see many lakes along the trail. Actually, the trail passes only by one lake – Zukey Lake. And since the trail is often lined with trees and other tall vegetation, you only get a small break in it to get the glimpse of the lake. The trail also passes over Huron River and few small creeks.

Zukey Lake view
View of Zukey Lake from the trail.

Most of the trail is surrounded by trees and other tall greenery. Even when you pass through towns. Parts of the trail also go through some open farm fields, occasional meadows and bogs.

Even though, most of the trail is surrounded by tall trees, don’t expect to get much shade during the day. The tall vegetation is far enough from the trail, that it does not provide much protection from the sun.

Huron River
View of Huron River.

Mike Levine Lakelands Trail Trailheads

The trailheads from west to east are:

  • Herb Amster Trailhead (Hawkins Rd, S. of Jordan Rd, Leoni Twp.)(42.321057, -84.339826) – two picnic tables, porta-potty, NO trash can. Parking area not busy.
What you need to know about Mike Levine Lakelands Trail
Herb Amster Trailhead. This is the western end of the trail.
  • Munith Staging Area (Musbach Rd, S. of 6th St)(42.390592, -84.250770) – no restroom, small parking lot.
  • Stockbridge Trailhead (M-52 and S. Center St, Stockbridge)(42.445256, -84179762) – restroom, small parking lot, not too busy.
Stockbridge Trailhead
Stockbridge Trailhead.
  • Gregory Staging Area (188 Main St, Gregory)(42.460196, -84.084730) – no restroom, small shelter and few picnic tables, small parking lot.
  • Pinckney Depot (499 Pearl St, Pinckney)(42.460623, -83.942295) – restroom, medium size parking lot, and busy
What you need to know about Mike Levine Lakelands Trail
Pinckney Depot.
  • Pettysville Trailhead (Pettysville Road and M-36, Hamburg)(42.465797, -83.876034) – porta-potty, small parking lot.
  • Hamburg Trailhead (10699 Hamburg Road, Hamburg)(42.447566, -83.800720) – porta-potty, small parking lot and very busy.
Hamaburg Trailhead
Busy Hamburg Trailhead.

Trail Amenities

Lakelands Trail
Occasional bench along the trail.
  • The trail does not have any water pumps or water fountains. So, make sure you bring your own. In the worst case, you can stop at one of the gas stations, or businesses close to the trail.
  • There are occasional benches, mostly in the eastern half of the trail.
  • You also find sporadic trash can, mostly in the eastern half of the trail, and in most trailheads.
  • There are restrooms or portas in some trailheads’ parking areas (as mentioned in Trailheads description).

Off Trail Amenities

Town of Gregory
Town of Gregory as seen from the trail.

Most of the time, it is hard to notice that you are in the vicinity of a town because the trail is well surrounded by tall vegetation. However, since the towns are small, you are never far from some food stores, restaurants, gas stations. Unfortunately, the trail does not have any signs informing about any amenities, which is kind of surprising. No signs informing that you approach towns, business, etc. Hopefully, this is because it is fairly new trail and eventually the DNR adds some signage.

Tree across the trail
Tree across the trail… Since the trail is surrounded by trees, be prepared to deal with situation like this after a storm.

Final Thoughts

The Mike Levine Lakelands Trail is a decent trail to go for a longer relaxing ride. No hills, not many other cyclists or runners to dodge around. As far as scenery is concerned, there is not much there. I think, that the most interesting, visually, are some farm fields with different crops… So, nothing really exciting, but a solid, long trail to ride on.

As I have mentioned above, it is a part of the long Lake-to-Lake Trail Route #1, and therefore, it is an important link in long-overdue connection on many Michigan rail-trails.

Lakelands Trail
Paved section east of Hamburg Trailhead.

My Ratings

Scenery (0-boring, 10-breathtaking): 4.0 (going mostly through wooded and open country areas, some farm fields and occasional towns)

Easy-to-Follow (0-no maps, often broken into section without clear directions, 10-well marked with maps showing current location): 9.0 (there are no posted nor printed maps anywhere, not even at the trailheads;  however, it’s a linear trail and its easy to follow; there are practically no miles’ markers (there are few at the eastern end of the trail), so you have to rely on your computer, GPS, or phone to find out where you are)

Food Access (0-no food facilities at all, 10-food available every few miles): 5.0 (few choices along the trail in towns only)

Restrooms (0-none, 10-moderen restrooms every few miles): 5.0 (restrooms at most trailheads, which depending on where along the trail, could be several miles apart)

Surface Quality: 7.0 (dirt/limestone two track trail, fairly smooth, asphalt – mostly smooth, with few miles with some regular annoying cracks)

Accessibility: 9.0 (many trailheads with parking lots; very easy to access; however, no trailhead at the eastern end of the trail)

Usage (0-not used at all, 10-extremely popular): 2.0 (very low)

Hills (0-completely flat, 10-Extremely hilly): 0.0

Sun/Shade (0-no shade at all, 10-competely shaded): 2.0 (a little bit of shade, mostly in the eastern part of the trail)

Lakelands Trail
Somewhere on the limestone section of the trail.

Resources

Michigan Trails Magazine – Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park  

Lakelands Trail

If you are interested in other bicycle trails in the southeast Michigan, here are my posts about:

Rich S. is a lifetime photographer and traveler based in Metro Detroit area. He has been traveling the Great Lakes area for over 30 years. Follow his blog about his trips, interesting activities and destinations in the Great Lakes region.

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