The first time I visited Watkins Lake State Park, it took my breath away. The skies were bright blue with puffy white clouds, which reflected over the lakes for a picture-perfect scene. Once I hit the trails, the green grass glowed in the sunlight, and the quiet of nature was ever-present, and at that moment I literally could not think of a single place I would rather be! I knew I had to come back to visit with the kiddos in tow.

This past weekend the whole family headed to Watkins Lake State Park and County Preserve for a hike, and it proved to be the perfect hiking location for kids. The trails are mostly grass with no roots poking through, which is a great ground cover for unsteady toddlers. The path to the lake lookout and back took us about an hour, which is the perfect time frame for us to tire Little out. Even without the blue skies this weekend, the beauty of the area was still breathtaking! 

Location Name: Watkins Lake State Park and County Preserve

Address: 14801 Arnold Rd, Brooklyn, MI 49230

Why we love it: Wide, grassy paths, scenic views, multiple paths for all lengths of hikes

Features: 5-mile walking trail, scenic views, a lake that is a protected waterfowl refuge (so some trails and areas are closed at certain times of the year), 

“Big’s Review”: This is a nice place to walk. There are many paths to take and lots of ways to go in different directions. I recommend you bring snacks and water. 

Elizabeth’s Suggestion: This location is excellent for a hike with the kids, or a solo visit to take in the beauty. The first time I visited, I saw a woman who packed a chair and picnic and was sitting by a tree clearing near the water, and that seems like the perfect “me time” destination! After you finish hiking, make sure you drive down Arnold Road to do some lake and bird watching!

Toddler Approved? Yes! Little loved hiking here.

Stroller friendly? No

Big Kid Approved? Yes! 

Full Sun or Shade? A mix of both.

Restroom? A portable restroom is available at the parking.

Cost? A recreation passport is required to visit, but this seems to be handled with the honor system.

Parking? Large parking lot near the trailhead.

Hours: Dawn until Dusk (as noted, some areas of the park are closed at certain times of the year due to the waterfowl refuge. Check the park website for more information)


In my hunt for kid-friendly hiking trails, Watkins Lake State Park tops the list. The grassy paths make this trail toddler-friendly (no rocks flinging into your shoes either!) and the gorgeous views are the icing on the cake. This location is pretty remote depending on where you are traveling from, so pack some snacks/water and be ready for a beautiful adventure!

Watkins Lake State Park and County Preserve – Brooklyn, Michigan
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2 thoughts on “Watkins Lake State Park and County Preserve – Brooklyn, Michigan

  • October 23, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    I used to go down Arnold Rd often to photograph wildlife before it was a State Park. I have a great shot of a mother swan, who made her nest right next to the road one year, with her 4 little cygnets. It’s one of my favorite shots, as is a fall color shot across the water of the farm and the beautifully colored trees.

    • October 23, 2021 at 10:20 pm

      Sounds beautiful! I didn’t even think of how gorgeous this spot would be in the fall. I need to schedule a visit now that the colors are really coming out!

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