Another park I always enjoyed hiking and mountain biking through in southwestern Michigan is Yankee Springs Recreation Area. The mountain biking here was challenging and beautiful. Not only were there many obstacles on the singletrack to avoid but there was always a fair amount of sand to deal with. One of my favorite mountain biking trails to go on was the Deep Lake trail which I took around a unique geological formation called The Devil’s Soup Bowl. This soup bowl is a glacially formed kettle bowl. Devil’s Soup Bowl is somewhat unique in that most kettle bowls have filled with water over the years, but this one remains dry.
Yankee Springs Recreation Area was once the hunting grounds of the Algonquin Indians and the famous Chieftain, Chief Noonday. The site was established in 1835 and the village was made famous by Yankee Bill Lewis who owned and operated a hotel along the stagecoach run from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids. The rugged terrain, the bogs and marshes, the lakes and streams, and the unique beauty of the park’s 5,200 acres lend itself to many forms of recreation. A modern campground is located on the shores of beautiful Gun Lake while rustic camping is available at Deep Lake. An equestrian campground is also are available. Nine lakes are located within the park boundaries providing excellent fishing and water sports of all kinds.
As a year-round park, cross-country skiing on its more than 10 acres of Nordic ski trails, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice fishing are all popular winter activities. This park includes 30 miles of hiking trails, 12 miles of challenging mountain bike trails, 9 miles of horseback trails, as well as two public beaches, picnic shelters, and two universally accessible fishing piers one at Gun Lake and one at Deep Lake.
Yankee Springs is a 30-minute drive from either Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo off US-131. From the highway, depart at exit 61 and follow County Road A42 east for 7 miles to its junction with Gun Lake Road and turn right. If coming from the east, head west on M-37 from Hastings for 2 miles, then turn onto Gun Lake Road (also County A42 at this point) to reach the park in 10 miles.
A modern campground (with 200 sites that have electric hookups) is located on the shores of beautiful Gun Lake while rustic camping (120 rustic sites)is available at Deep Lake. An equestrian campground (25 sites) is also at this Park. Although the Park is open all year, the shower facilities, restrooms, and RV sanitation station are only open from May 1st to October 23rd. Reservations are highly encouraged during the summer months. There are also 2 very nice cabins to rent built in the 1930’s (by the CCC) that have been very well maintained. Each cabin has a small kitchen area with a microwave, mini refrigerator and coffee pot. There is also an electric heater on the wall ( in addition to the large fireplace)that will keep you nice and warm even when the temperature drops below freezing. The cabins are rustic so they do not have running water, but a hand pump is available just up the drive. There is also a pit toilet available about 50 ft from the front door.
Based on https://freecampsites.net/#!Middleville,+MI,+USA there are 3 free campsites with 31 miles of Middleview, Michigan.
—-Hiking & Biking—-
The rugged terrain, inland lakes, interesting bogs, and unusual depressions known as Devil’s Soup Bowls provide Yankee Springs Recreation Area with ideal hiking qualities. Yankee Springs has more than 16 miles of designated hiking trails but few of the routes are loops. One of the few that is, Hall Lake Trail, is also one of the more scenic walks in the park when combined with the connector to the Devil Soup Bowls for a 3.4-mile outing. Most Mountain Biking trails are rated as intermediate to advanced because of the climbs, obstacles and sandy surfaces. 6 miles of the North Country Trail also winds through this Park.
—-Things to Do—-
One of the fun things to do while you’re at Yankee Springs Recreation Area is The Trolley By The Lake. This year the Trolley By The Lake will run on Saturday nights from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm from May 28th to August 13th. The open-air Trolley ride is free.The trolley will run from Yankee Springs State Park to Orangeville’s Gun River Inn. The trolley will make 10 stops along the route.