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Wakazoo Loop

Easy/Intermediate
  5.0 ( 2 ) Favorite

Trail

14.5 mile 23.3 kilometer loop
98% Runnable
Easy/Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 898' 274 m
Descent: -898' -274 m
High: 752' 229 m
Low: 627' 191 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 18% (10°)

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Trail shared by Lucy Murphy

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The Wakazoo Loop is a relatively flat route that's almost 15 miles long with numerous trailheads and parking lots.

Lucy Murphy

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

There is a section south of 120th Avenue and west of 48th Street with very large old trees. Avoid this area on very windy days for the chance of falling branches, Whenever you're in this area, look up throughout your jaunt.

The Allegan State Game Area is 50,000 acres, and the Department of Natural Resources encourages outdoor activity all year round in this region. The only time to avoid the area is November 15 through November 30th, which is deer hunting season with firearms.

Overview

The Wakazoo Loop, entirely marked with yellow blazes on the trees, is unique because it is the only trail of length in southwestern Michigan. As such, it's perfect for backpacking, snowshoeing, or running. This dirt loop trail circles through the Allegan State Game Area traversing along Swan Creek and winds through pine oak-pine barrens (also called oak-pine savanna). There is a unique community of plants and animals that have adapted to life on the dry, sandy soils of this area.

Runner Notes

This is mostly flat with the occasional log or wet patch to avoid.

Description

To access this loop, park at the pull-off on the north side of 118th Ave just east of the bridge that crosses Swan Creek. From here, run over the bridge to pick up the western limb of Swan Creek Trail (North and South) on the south side of the road. The trail follows the perimeter of Swan Creek Pond as it heads south, then continues to follow Swan Creek to the junction with Wakazoo Trail (aka Northwest Trail) about 2.6 miles into the run.

Take a right onto Wakazoo Trail (aka Northwest Trail) which heads west towards Ely Campground. There are a few road crossings along this trail, so just stay alert. You'll reach Ely Lake around six miles into the run; here there is a campground, restrooms, a picnic area, and even a swimming spot in the lake. This is a great spot to stop for a break!

From Ely Lake, continue east/northeast before crossing 116th Avenue. Here, the Wakazoo Trail (aka Northwest Trail) heads north through the woods, crossing several roads; again, please use caution at these crossings. About 9.8 miles into the run, the Wakazoo Trail (aka Northwest Trail) turns east again and crosses a pipeline easement around 11 miles in. Continue east, following the yellow blazes but use caution around 11.8 miles as there are some very old and dying trees in the area. In strong wind this could be a dangerous spot.

Keep on keeping-on and the trail will turn southeast at about the 13 mile mark. From here it's a straight shot back to Swan Creek Trail (North and South). At the intersection of Swan Creek Trail take a right to head south. Once you reach the road, turn left to cross the bridge to get back to your car.

There are some clear areas of plains where old fragile trees have been cleared and some other areas where large trees still exist. The varied terrain of this loop is, without a doubt, an experience you want to be a part of.

The whole trail is relatively flat and easy to run on, though there might be the occasional log on the trail. A portion of the trail between Ely Lake and Swan Creek, called the Ely Lake Swan Creek Connector, has an batch of briar, but this is easily avoidable by running on the equestrian trail that runs beside the Ely Lake Swan Creek Connector portion. A section of the trail between 118th Avenue and 120th Avenue takes place on 52nd Street rather than in the woods, and a portion is on the equestrian trail marked with white splashes on trees. In the spring, the trail around Ely Lake may be a little damp, but can be avoided by going around the wetlands.

Flora & Fauna

Warblers, scarlet tanager, and wood thrush are among many of the bird species, where flowering cactus, Wild lupine, swamp milkweed, bergamot, sassafras trees, and squaw root are among the noticeable flora.

History & Background

This trail was named after Chief Waukazoo by the Boy Scouts, with a bit of a change in spelling. Chief Peter Waukazoo, along with Reverend George Smith, moved the Ottawa Native Americans from the Old Wing Mission near Holland, Michigan to a new location, Wakazooville, in Leelanau County, Michigan in June 1849, which is now part of Northport.

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  5.0 from 2 votes

#828

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  5.0 from 2 votes
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in Michigan

#828

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2,528 Since Dec 31, 2017
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Photos

Springtime at Ely Lake at Ely Lake Campground which is a stop-over on the Wakazoo Trail.
Dec 31, 2017 near Fennville, MI
About 3 1/2 miles one-way to get from Ely Lake to South Swan Creek, dirt trail the whole way. Equestrian trail within site if brier exists on the trail.
Jan 1, 2018 near Allegan, MI
Go ahead and snowshoe. The trail is marked with yellow blazes on the trees.
Jan 1, 2018 near Fennville, MI
Swamp Trail in dry season
Jan 28, 2018 near Fennville, MI
North of 120th Avenue on a warm October afternoon moving towards the "Forest of Pines."
Dec 31, 2017 near Fennville, MI
Beautiful fall day on the Wakazoo Trail
Sep 26, 2018 near Fennville, MI

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