Waterloo Recreation Area Photos & Hiking Guide

Waterloo State Recreation Area’s Eddy Discovery Center Hiking Trails

If ever there was something I regret when it comes to enjoying Michigan’s beautiful state parks & recreation areas… It would have to be that I did not discover them sooner. For the Waterloo State Recreation Area and the adjoining Eddy Discovery Center, this is most certainly the case.

Yes! You can fully experience Nature in Metro Detroit!

If you’ve been following along with us, you know that one of our most valued themes, is that nature is accessible so very closely to our metro Detroit region. This particular spot is just under an hour from the Downriver area. Because of this, we’ve been able to get out and visit several times in the last few weeks. What a place to enjoy the healing power of nature’s creation!

Wild Lupine Flower at Waterloo Recreation Area
A wild Lupine flower found near the Discovery Center

Family Friendly Waterloo Rec Area Features

This park has a little something for nearly everyone, and we’ve found it is a wonderful natural space for teaching your kids about the natural world. The Eddy Discovery Center itself is a nature center surrounded by interpretive trails that are easy to navigate for nearly anyone. At spots along the trails, you’ll find descriptive signage. These signs provide families an opportunity to teach the next generation about all kinds of topics. This carries over to the actual hiking trails as well. Strategically throughout the trail system there will be signs highlighting certain aspects of the spot in question.

Learning about geology near the Discovery Center
Much to learn, young one! It’s truly amazing watching and helping youngsters learn about the natural world.
The Eddy Discovery Center's Natural Play Trail is a great place to immerse your kids into nature
Our godson enjoys some of the exhibit/playground areas on the Natural Play Trail near the Discovery Center.

Observations From The Trails.

Our first visit here, we were able to enjoy the late spring growth stages of the forest. To our visual delight, we were greeted with lush green foliage springing up everywhere. The dappled light falling through the boughs of the forest canopy, really added to what we would call a magical experience. The landscape here is quite varied. Be ready to enjoy everything from more mature forests, younger growth areas, remnants of past human habitation, and even a real bog.

Perhaps the most memorable particularity of our first visit though, was not what we saw. No, it was the enchanting floral fragrances which wafted through our gleefully overloaded olfactory senses. At several points we simply stopped right in the middle of the trail to greedily draw in as much of the wonderfully aromatic forest atmosphere as possible. I really wish it were possible to convey this to you with photographs! You’ll simply have to visit and experience it for yourself.

The troubles of the world simply melt away amidst such natural bliss… Words really can’t explain the healing these forested trails have brought.

Magical scenes are everywhere near the Discovery Center
Jess and our family enjoy a quick break among the magical forests of the Waterloo Recreation Area

Explore the Waterloo Recreation Area Trails

Among all of the state parks and recreation areas we have enjoyed, this park is somewhat unique in that most of the trails are accessible from a central area. If you park near the Eddy Discovery Center, you’re not far from any of the trails in this section of the park.

Here’s what we’ve explored so far!

Waterloo Pinckney & Oak Wood Loop

This loop is easily one of the more easily accessible, short, and beautifully scenic that we’ve explored here thus far. It is just over one mile in length. Starting from the parking area, you’re immediately on the Oak Wood loop. At about the halfway point of the trail, it joins up with the busier and quite long Waterloo-Pinckney trail. While the area is relatively hilly, the Oak Wood follows the valley portions more and doesn’t require a bunch of hill climbing.

The beginning of the Oakwood Loop
Here’s the scene that will greet you once you begin down the Oakwood Loop path.
A small scene at Waterloo Rec Area
There are many small little scenes like this throughout the trails.
One of the cooler trees along the Oakwood Loop trail
This has become one of my favorite scenes along the Oakwood Loop
An old rotting stump on the Oakwood Loop
Nature, giving back to nature. A scene along the Oakwood Loop Trail.
A trail scene in Waterlooo Rec Area
This part of the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail is the “home stretch” on the Oakwood Loop.

Waterloo Bog Trail

The Bog Trail is another fairly short and easy trail to explore. You’ll enjoy a rather mature Beech Maple forest as you make your way to the short boardwalk section which allows a glimpse into the very unique Bog ecosystem. The difference is quite remarkable!

A bog flower in the Waterloo Bog
A couple very colorful flowers we managed to find in the Bog Area of the aptly named Bog Trail. I forgot to look these up, so if you know what they are, feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post!
Old Oak Tree near the Waterloo Bog
A stately Oak tree we found near the bog.
a soft image of a pond in the Waterloo Rec Area Forest
A beautifully lit scene we found along the Bog Trail

Spring Pond Trail

Our most recent exploration was the Spring Pond Trail. This loop begins and ends at the same point, and is just over one mile in length. You’ll find it just a short distance from the beginning of the Bog Trail. This trail features a more densely packed undergrowth in it’s forest areas. You’ll find very little in the way of hills to navigate here too. We took our time and still managed to finish this one in well under 1 hour’s time.

A scene along the Spring Pond Trail
A fallen tree along Waterloo’s Spring Pond Trail. Incidentally, it has fallen into the pond.
Wooded path along the Spring Pond Trail
A scene along the Spring Pond Trail.
The entrance sign to the spring pond trail at Waterloo Recreation Area
The entrance to the Spring Pond Trail

Lowland Trail

If hiking through beautiful woods is your jam… Take around 30-40 minutes and check out the Lowland Trail. This loop is again, just over 1 mile in length and is easily appropriate for just about any hiking skill level.

Unfortunately a bit of an absent minded mishap of mine got in the way of capturing a bunch of images from these last few trails. You see, after taking a short break on a bench located on the Spring Pond trail… I managed to leave my tripod there. It wasn’t until we were about a half mile into the Lowland Trail that I realized my folly. Luckily, the tripod survived and was recovered on our way back to the car.

A sign signifying an old Beech tree along the trail
Heed the sign!
The matriarch of the forest.
An old Beech Tree along the Lowland Trail. Dates back as far as the Declaration of Independence! We simply LOVE these storied old matriarchs of the forest.

Natural Play Trail

This trail begins right near the Eddy Discovery Center. It’s a really short loop and has multiple benches and “playground” type areas for children to explore and learn. The trail is almost completely flat and is groomed with what seems to be something like Quickrete. So, it’s fully groomed, steeped in the forest, and a perfect place to let your kids learn and blow off some steam!

The Natural Play Trail
The beginning of the Natural Play Trail. A must visit for parents of young children!
A "playground" on the Natural Play Trail
One of the playground exhibits on the Waterloo Natural Play Trail
Our Friends enjoy the Natural Play Trail
Our best friend and godson enjoying the Natural Play Trail together.
A "teepee" along the Natural Play Trail
One of the Teepee exhibits along the Eddy Discovery Center’s Natural Play Trail

Thanks for reading about our Waterloo Recreation Area Adventures!

We appreciate you taking your time to poke through our adventure chronicle! Since we’ve yet to explore many of the trails here, be sure to keep an eye out for more posts coming soon!

Happy Shooting!


Enjoy some more Michigan State Recreation Area reading!

Holly State Recreation Area

Pinckney State Recreation Area

Bald Mountain State Recreation Area

Learn More About the Eddy Discovery Center

Official Eddy Discovery Center Website

Nothing in the world is more exciting to a photographer than, the perfect light at the perfect moment. However, if this convergence of events happened all the time, perfect light might become imperfect, and the amazing could become mundane. Since the perfect scene is dictated by nature... a travel photographer must make the best use of the opportunity at hand. Attempting to make the mundane, extraordinary with creativity and a variety of techniques. This pretty much sums up my experience with nature and scenic photography. Which forces me to do my best to make the most of the opportunities at hand... regardless of what mother nature has planned. I look forward to sharing our adventures in Michigan, and showing off the beauty of our mitten-shaped corner of the world. While also sharing some of my knowledge of photography, which might be helpful in your adventures.

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