Independence Oaks County Park

If you are looking for an outing that is not far from home, Independence Oaks County Park is the largest unit in the Oakland County parks system at 1,088 acres with a state-designated Wildlife Viewing Area.  The park encompasses rolling hills, wooded ravines, the headwaters of the Clinton River, and a variety of wildlife including white-tailed deer. The centerpiece is Crooked Lake, a 68-acre lake with crystal-clear water that is free from the buzz of motorboats and jet skis.

The park has a 14-mile network of trails with most of it in a rugged, undeveloped area on the west side of the lake. There are three loops that can be combined to make a 3-mile loop that begins near the Lewis E. Wint Nature Center and leads across the park’s highest ridges along Crooked Lake. Cutting across the loop are several connector trails that allow you to shorten the hike.

On the east side of the lake are the paved trails that are popular with inline skaters. They include the river Loop, a paved 2.2 mile loop that includes a stretch though the Clinton River Flood Plain Natural Area, a wetland area, and the All-Visitors Loop that leads to an observation deck on Crooked Lake. The All-Visitors Trail is designed for individuals with disabilities.

Facilities:

  • A boat launch for non-motorized boats, seasonal rowboat, canoe, kayak and pedal boat rentals are on Crooked Lake. Catch and release fishing is allowed on Crooked Lake.
  • On east side of the lake are picnic areas, rental shelters, a ball field, sand volleyball courts, playground equipment, horseshoe pits and a beach with a bathhouse on Hidden Springs.
  • In the winter, the park offers cross-country skiing, ski rental, ice skating, ice fishing, and warming shelters. “The best groomed cross-country ski trails in southeast Michigan are at Independence Oaks” says Hour Detroit Magazine’s Best Winter Getaways List!

Nature Center:

  • The Lewis E. Wint Nature Center provides hands-on natural history exhibits and a feeding station viewing area. Year-round educational programs are conducted by the parks system’s natural resources staff. Specialized nature programs include StarLab, Nature Discovery and Scout Badge Days.

Cohn Amphitheater: Offers a shelter and fire circle and accommodates 150-200 guests for events or weddings. Bench seating is available.

Rubach Sensory Garden: Featuring a gazebo and water garden is located near visitor center.

Independence Oaks is just one of the facilities that make living in Clarkston, MI and the surrounding areas a desirable proposition. You can “vacation” after work or on the weekends and never be far from home.

Address: 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston, MI (2-1/2 miles north of I-75 Exit 89)

Phone: 248-625-6473 (Wint Nature Center); 248-625-0877 (Park)

Park Hours of Operation: Approximately 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, or as posted at park entrance. Open year round. Closed Christmas Day.

Fees & Permits: Daily or annual vehicle permit required (available at the park) or online. Oakland County residents $5.00 per vehicle fee, daily, or $25.00 annual fee. Non-Oakland County residents $8.00 per vehicle fee, daily, or $46.00 annual fee.

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