Before we came to Adrian to work with Habitat, we stayed for five days at Waterloo State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan. This is a beautiful area with dozens of small lakes – a fisher’s paradise! Waterloo State Recreation Area is spread out over 20,000 acres. We camped at Portage Lake Modern Campground, which means that it had electrical service at all the campsites. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday there were very few people here – maybe 10 campsites were occupied. But then Friday the campground filled up for the weekend. Several folks told us that they stay at Waterloo whenever Michigan is playing at home and drive in to Ann Arbor for the game. There were Michigan banners, coolers, and sweatshirts everywhere. We kept a low profile over the weekend.
The campsites at Waterloo State Recreation Area, Portage Lake, are asphalt or dirt and grass. There are very good descriptions available online along with a picture of each campsite. We were tempted to take the only pull-through site, but it was described as unlevel (and it was) so we took a back-in site that was described as level (which it was). We had a lake view – no extra charge – and were on a small rise, which was nice when we had three days of rain. The dirt sites behind us were very muddy.
The best part of this campground for me was the nice asphalt path down to the lake and beach. I walked it every day, no matter what the weather. We only saw other people once. There is also a dry marsh trail at the campsite which was a nice, short hike. The restrooms were clean and modern, and there were nice playgrounds and a disc golf course just down the hill.
Michigan requires that non-residents purchase a Recreation Passport to display in the windshield of the vehicle. This allows you to get into any Michigan State Park for free for a year. The pass was a reasonable $31.
While at Waterloo State Recreation Area we also spent some time in the city of Chelsea. Chelsea has 5,000 residents and is a wonderful town with lots of stores and restaurants. It has a very vibrant downtown – every downtown restaurant was packed on Friday night. It is also home of Jiffy Mixes. When we ate a Smokehouse 52 BBQ they proudly advertised that they used Jiffy Cornbread mix or Jiffy Biscuit mix.
This is a wonderful area of Michigan and Waterloo State Recreation Area was a great place to stay. We especially enjoyed Chelsea and the good bike trails in the area.