This winter in Michigan has been a fair-weather adventurer’s dream. Mild temperatures and minimal snow have made this a short “winter” season.  It has been unlike any winter I’ve experienced since living in Detroit. Is it terrible that I feel like I’ve been cheated from my true winter adventure season this year? I made it my goal to make the most of winter in 2016 to gain more experience in colder temps and expand my adventure season.

                Reid Lake is a perfect winter location. Lakeside campsites with great setting and the opportunity for a roaring campfire to warm the body and soul. 

I enjoy the challenges and solitude of winter camping so I was really looking forward to winter this year (call me crazy!). I also had a list of shorter trails not far from Detroit that I was excited to check out this winter to snowshoe/ski or winter camp on my weekends off.  One of these was Reid Lake.  So when a bit of snow finally fell, (at least enough to seem like a real winter trip), I joined a Meetup group and headed north to the Reid Lake area in the Huron Manistee National Forest for a winter camping overnight trip.

Sneak out early from work on Friday and arrive just in time to watch the sun go down over the lake on a chilly winter night.

Reid Lake is about 3 hours north of Detroit, not far from Glennie, Michigan.  Much like Hoist Lakes (which I wrote about in another post), this area has a series of loop trails that can be pieced together or hiked in a larger loop. The camping areas are not far from the main trailheads, making it possible to hike in after work on Friday for a short getaway.  These trails are popular with cross country skiers in the winter, and I found out, also popular for winter ice fishing.  Given that the winter has been pretty mild in Detroit, it was shocking to see that Reid Lake was frozen enough to warrant ice fishing. But sure enough, the ice was thick and the lake was very frozen.  The parking lot was full with day fishermen who made the 1 mile hike into Reid Lake from the lot to try their luck.

Lots of ice fishing was going on at Reid Lake.  There must be something worthwhile under the ice!

The trail was packed down so I didn’t need snowshoes to get to the camping areas.  Snow along the ancillary trails was fresh and a bit deeper.  During a regular winter with normal snowfall, this would be a great snowshoe or ski trail. The trails are wide, well maintained and marked.  A great spot for beginners or people looking for a gentle stroll.

Joining a meetup was a great way to get out on the trail with like minded people and meet some great adventurers who love winter camping as much as I do! 

Reid Lake has a few lakeside campsites, some with pre-existing fire pits and benches. On the SW side of the lake is a large campsite with lake views. It’s also a short walk to the outhouse and has access to the other trails which are worth exploring.

Out on a day hike on the trails in the Reid Lake foot travel area.

As the sun went down, the fisherman packed up and headed out.  My campfire was blazing  and warm, the stars came out and the sky cleared.  There was complete solitude on the lake.  It was the perfect location for a night hike, topped off with a walk out onto the frozen lake for night sky gazing and to snap some interesting photos.

Night Sky over Reid Lake

For an quick overnight or weekend getaway from Detroit, this is the perfect location.  It is easy to access from the city, with well marked trails and established backcountry camping not far from the trailhead.  Extend your camping season with an easy option to test your gear or your winter adventure spirit. This would be a fun trail during any season as well, especially for those who wish to throw in a line and catch their dinner during the spring and summer months!


Another weekend, another successful winter adventure!

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One thought

  1. My dogs and I hiked this over Thanksgiving. Beautiful area. We saw one of the campsites. Happy to see bear poles were available. I think we saw bear scat on our walk.


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