WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY
Seven Lakes State Park remains a well-kept secret for many residents of Oakland County. That is a shame, for this 1,432 acre gem of diverse topography offers excellent outdoor recreation opportunities. Located in the northwestern corner of our county, Seven Lakes has something for everyone at the dawn of summer. There is also a small mystery spawned by this park’s name. Sharp-eyed park visitors study the map, and then pause. Where is the seventh lake? Hint: Don’t look for it.
Big Seven Lake, Little Seven Lake, Dickinson Lake, Mud Lake, Sand Lake and Spring Lake are all clearly indicated on the park map. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides the answer on the count of only six lakes. “About 230 acres of water with several miles of shoreline await the park user. A development group originally purchased the land but they were unable to follow through with their plans and sold the land to the state in 1969. The dam, constructed by the developers, formed one large lake from seven small lakes, historically known as the DeCoup Lake, hence the name Seven Lakes State Park.”
Many families come for the day to picnic or visit the beach; others make reservations for a modern campsite with electrical hookups. Bass, bluegill, walleye, pike and catfish lure in fishermen, especially on the largest lake, Big Seven Lake. Nature lovers, seekers of solitude, and hikers of all ages are attracted to the hilly, wooded terrain, open meadows, wetlands, wildflowers, and tiny streams that add to the attraction of this beautiful State Park, managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
First time visitors should stop at the contact station on the entrance road and pick up a park brochure and trail map. The “Green Trail” is a well-marked 2.1 mile loop trail that can be easily accessed adjacent to the Dickinson Shelter and is a good place to start the adventure. It’s a great portal to the wonders of Seven Lakes and connects to other natural surface trails. The trail descends rapidly from the shelter to Dickinson Lake, and meanders near Big Seven Lake and Little Seven Lake. If your child (or you) enjoy the earth sciences, the story of glacial geology will spring to life along the trail. Large boulders, properly named glacial erratics, are visible in some locations. They were part of the Canadian Shield and then pushed south by a sheet of mile high ice. Take my advice at trail marker number seven and follow the short spur trail a few hundred yards for a great view of Big Seven Lake.
Osprey and Bald Eagles visit the shallows in search of fresh fish. On sunny days hikers may spot northern water snakes near the shorelines. Last year I had the good fortune to witness a northern water snake entering a wire mesh fish basket in attempt to share a meal of bluegill at a park fishing pier. And Michigan’s only venomous snake, the massasauga rattlesnake is very much at home at Seven Lakes, but this shy and reclusive creature is rarely seen. What is always seen, are families having fun at this peaceful and pleasant Michigan state park harboring six lakes on the wilder side of Oakland County.
Jonathan Schechter is the Nature Education Writer for Oakland County Government and blogs weekly about nature’s way, trails, and wildlife on the Wilder Side of Oakland County.