Big Portage Lake at the Waterloo Recreation Area
Big Portage Lake is a destination that has a little something for everyone. My family heads here frequently throughout the summer to swim in the lake, and we visit often in the spring and fall to play on the playground. Big Portage Lake also offers camping, a disc golf course, hiking trails, and so much more. Keep reading to see why Big Portage Lake is one of our favorite destinations in Jackson County!
Location Name: Big Portage Lake at the Waterloo Recreation Area
Address: 11700 Seymour Road, Grass Lake, MI
Why we love it: Sandy beach with lake swimming, small playground area, and a beautiful scenic setting
Features: Toddler playground, big kid playground, camping sites, disc golf, hiking trails, pavilion with picnic tables, lake with sandy beach, picnic tables and grills by the water, two separate bathroom buildings, and Jr’s Concession Lake Store
“Big’s Review”: It’s a nice place to swim, and float, and relax. The sand is a good part of the experience. The playground is good, and I like that there is a walking trail so you can have a few different choices on what to do when you are there.
Elizabeth’s Suggestion: We love parking in the boat launch parking lot, and walking on the tree-lined path to head to the beach. The walk back to this parking lot when leaving the beach is not as uphill as the other parking lot, which helps when you have beach gear and a stroller to push.
Toddler Approved? Yes! This is one of “Little’s” favorite places to roam, and he loves all of the pathways and grassy areas by the playground. He also loves visiting the beach, and the shallow water to enter the beach is perfect for the littles.
Stroller friendly? Yes! Paved walkways can be found throughout the park, making it easy to take your stroller along.
Big Kid Approved? Definitely.
Full Sun or Shade? You’ll find areas of each, but the park is full sun, hence why we tend to only play there in spring and fall. Down by the lake, you can find but full sun and shade.
Restroom? There are two restroom buildings here and multiple “feet washing” stations throughout. (If you visit in the off season, restrooms will be closed.)
Cost? Free if you have the recreation passport on your license plate. Otherwise, you can buy a pass from the park ranger station at the entry of the park. The recreation passport costs $12 with your license plate registration renewal through the Secretary of State, and $17 when purchased at state parks.
Parking? Ample parking spread over two lots
Hours: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Big Portage Lake at the Waterloo Recreation Areas is one of our most frequently visited locations. We find that the playground is never very busy in the camping off seasons, and even when the beach area is “busy”, there is still plenty of space for everyone. You can expect bigger crowds on Saturdays, but if you are looking for an experience with fewer people around, head there on a weekday evening! By mid-summer, the lake is nice and warm, and the lake breeze helps you feel refreshed on a hot day even when you aren’t in the water! Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen.