your paddlesports destination

Pinckney State Recreation Area in Michigan

Trip Overview

Victoria Day was just gorgeous and I had made arrangements to hook up with Sharon and Kathy from this forum to do a paddle from Bruin Lake to Hell, Michigan.

We put-in at the Bruin Lake boat launch - Sharon and me carried my yak from my campsite - there is a staircase to the right of #13 where I was camping.

The paddle from Bruin Lake to Hell is about four and a half miles-very doable in an afternoon at a relaxed pace I doubt I would have been able to find Hell without Sharon's help as there are several lakes there and markers for channels are lacking, therefore a guiding hand is best!

You have to paddle near the left side to find the channel out of Bruin Lake. Eventually you will enter Hell Creek, where a new yurt is located for rent thru the Pinckney SRA. It has paddle up access, an outhouse and all your supplies need to be brought in - I believe they might have a well with water now but you should check on that one before leaving. No shower either it would be a great base for a small group the water is tannin stained here.

We continued on to Halfmoon lake. There are houses on this lake.

I believe we passed by a smaller lake called Island Lake - there is a sign on the small island with boating rules on it.

On to Hiland Lake where there are more houses, then after rounding one last bend, on to Hell!

You need to stay to the left side to takeout before the dam - there is a dropoff so don't be doing any butt dipping here unless ya need to cool off! HAHA!! A bit of flat rocks at the edge - you'll need to step out of your boats here. Leave your boats on shore and walk up to the Dam Site Inn for a nice lunch break. Souvenir t-shirts are available for $15.00 each. Great food BTW!

On our way back to Bruin Lake we jogged over to Blind Lake. Sharon wanted to show us the 4 primitive campsites that are available thru Pinckney SRA. Each site has a picnic table, and firepit. An outhouse is conveniently located for campsite and bike trail use. The Potawatomi bike trail winds thru this campsite area for bike/boat access only.

The trip took about 4 hours with lunch included.

The next day I got on the Potawatomi trail at #7 but found it too technical for me - I would have done the 8 mile trail section but I erred on the safety thing for myself and my past injuries. I can tell that it would be a great trail for a lot of serious bikers though you travel over several waterways as evidenced by the few bike bridges we paddled under. There is also a section marked serious hills for those of you who like that type of challenge.

I would highly recommend this area for paddling-we could have gone into Patterson Lake which is another direction to paddle here. Another time perhaps!


I camped at #13 as I like to be near the water. All sites have electrical so they are a bit pricey-$22.00/night. Primitive sites are available for $10.00/night and the yurt is rented for $60.00/night. I had a hoard of ants on my tent but they didn't get to me...the campsite is very clean and well-maintained.






If you don't have a MI state sticker you must purchase one. Non residents pay $29.00. This gets you access to state parks for the year. Residents pay slightly less.


From Windsor-Ambassador Bridge to I-96 to I-94west to #52north to right on Werkner road, to right on Island Lake road, to left on Stofer road,to Hadley road, right on Kaiser road and follow signs.


Google or mapquest.

  • Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip