Sunday, July 31, 2016

Not far from home: A day trip to Brighton State Recreation Area

Bishop Lake at Brighton State Recreation Area.
So much is made of going "up north" (and no, I won't make you define what "up north" means) in Michigan during the summer, and for good reason. There's something special about the lakeshore, the woods, the river up north that's so unique.

A smattering of wildflowers still in bloom in late July.
But that feeling isn't one that can only be felt along the Straits of Mackinac or Lake Superior. Sometimes, that "up north" feeling can be achieved a lot closer to home. Case in point: Brighton State Recreation Area in Livingston County.

I've long gone to the park next to Brighton State Rec Area, but have never traveled to this park. My wife and I decided to take an adventure this afternoon and see what the nearly 5,000 acres of state park land offered. Driving into the park makes it feel like you've taken a portal out of modern times, as it quickly takes you away from the bustle of Brighton and into the backwoods, where a few homes are located on a nicely-grated dirt road. 

After picking up a trail map, we went to Bishop Lake, which was full of activity. The tail-end of graduation party season meant lots of pavilion use, along with plenty of families looking to spend some time at the beach on a muggy day. Opting to stick around Bishop Lake, we hiked along the path that encapsulates the lake, complete with boat launches and a recreation area near the campground with modern activities such as cornhole, tetherball and an outdoor foosball game that requires the playing of 12 live players.

Birds were the star of the day, with us seeing more than a half-dozen varieties. They included an
A heron hangs out in a marsh. Notice the pattern on the bird's
chest and neck. We couldn't see that detail from far out.
oriole, a heron, a cardinal, a goldfinch and several others. Geese populate the lake greatly, but there's no shortage of fowl at this park.

The simple, one-mile trail spans around most of the lake, connecting campgrounds and other trails to Bishop Lake. Plenty of flowers still remained this late in the summer.

Three foot trails exist for hikers, including a six-mile trail. There are places for horseback riding, as well as mountain biking, but those were areas we didn't explore today. Along the foot trail surrounding Bishop Lake, on that is handicap-accessible, there were several spots to sit on a bench and relax as the cries of families playing in the water could be heard.

We spent several hours at the park, something that can easily be done by day visitors looking to get outside in the summer months without having to drive too far to enjoy the amenities. Make a stop here if you ever get a chance.

This butterfly was having a good time on this flower.

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