Chelsea Area Summer Lake Guide

The Chelsea area is home to some of lower Michigan’s most beautiful and accessible inland lakes. Whether you want to swim, fish, hike, picnic, paddleboard, or go for a scenic drive, you have a lot of options this summer.  Washtenaw county has over 100 inland lakes, and over 20 are located near Chelsea, with countless opportunities for relaxation or experiencing new adventures. Chelsea is known as the gateway to the Waterloo Recreation Area, the largest Michigan State Park in the lower peninsula.

In a survey by Chelsea Area Friends for Recreation, Silver Lake in the Pinckney Recreation Area was the #1 choice for swimming. Located north of Chelsea at 8555 Silver Hill Rd, Pinckney, it’s a short scenic drive from town and has a large beach area, concessions, picnic tables and shelters.  It’s a family favorite known for clear, shallow water. Other lakes that ranked high for swimming include:Chelsea MI Lake

  • Portage Lake
  • Riker Lake
  • North Lake
  • Clear Lake
  • Halfmoon Lake

From small lakes completely surrounded by nature like Mill and Walsh Lakes, to more well-known destinations like Crooked Lake, there are many great spots for fishing.  Halfmoon, Joslin, and Crooked Lakes topped the list for best fishing spots in the Chelsea Area Friends for Recreation survey. There are many other options, including:

  • Cedar Lake
  • Doyle Lake
  • Green Lake
  • Mud Lake
  • Pierce Lake
  • Sugarloaf Lake
  • Winnewana Impoundment

Mill Lake, Winnewana Impoundment and Crooked Lake have great shorelines for fishing. At Crooked Lake, park near the boat launch and walk along the shore. There’s both a fishing dock and plenty of shaded fishing spots along the shore or bring a beach blanket and simply relax.

Mill Lake has a boat launch that’s easily accessible from McClure road, and a grassy area for shoreline fishing that’s truly off the beaten path. It’s located on the north side of the lake and only accessible by hiking. Check the Waterloo State Recreation Area map to see how to access it.  Winnewana Impoundment is 500 acres with a boat launch and fishing dock, making it one of the largest bodies of water in the area. Information on obtaining a fishing license is found at DNR – Fishing (

Fun Destinations and Things to Do
Pierce Lake, adjacent to the Pierce Lake Golf Course, features a great bird watching path along the shoreline and a fishing dock. A recent visitor spotted bobcat tracks along the shore. Park in the golf course parking lot and the path will be on the north side.
Sugarloaf Lake is home to the delicious Lakehouse Bakery on the north side, and a modern campground with a boat launch that is wheelchair accessible.
Cavanaugh Lake Park at 33 Cavanaugh Lake Rd is just a few minutes from downtown Chelsea and has a play structure, covered picnic areas and a beautiful shoreline. It’s a great picnic destination.
Green Lake yurt is a unique rustic camping experience and is accessible by wheelchair. It’s located near one of the DTE Energy Mountain Bike trailheads.
Take a kayak or paddleboard to a boat launch and explore a new lake. Inland lakes are typically calm and easy to navigate. It’s a great way to see turtles, birds and other wildlife.  Grab a comfortable chair and a good book and find a new favorite spot along a lakeshore for relaxation. Need a good book? Stop by Serendipity Books on your way to the lake.  For cruising around, the Chelsea Area Friends for Recreation survey results listed Halfmoon, Island and Cavanaugh Lakes as top choices.

Michigan summer is here, and it’s the best time to visit your favorite beach or discover someplace new. What is your favorite lake around Chelsea and why? Message the Chelsea Area Friends for Recreation on Facebook.

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