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Park Grand Opening

The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission (WCPARC), in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), officially dedicated the Watkins Lake State Park and County Preserve as Michigan’s 103rd state park at a ribbon-cutting event on Wednesday, October 26th.

Although the weather conditions were not ideal, nearly 150 supporters gathered in a cold rain to witness the opening of Watkins Lake, the first state park in Michigan to be jointly managed with a county recreation agency.

The property is a popular wildlife viewing destination and features a beautiful rolling landscape covered in a mixture of open meadow, mixed hardwoods, low wetland areas, open water, and the property’s most popular feature, Watkins Lake.  The park also has historical significance due to the Watkins family, the first settlers of the land, who played a key role in the Underground Railroad.

The 1,122-acre park is now open to the public, but with limited parking or amenities.  A soft surface trail system has been mowed along a significant portion of the railroad grade with a short loop west of Noggles Road.  The first parking lot has been installed off of Arnold Road.  WCPARC and MDNR will engage in a park master planning effort to determine the future development of the park.  A series of public meetings will be held to solicit input from the public.

Watkins Lake

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