Moderate hike around Merrill Creek Reservoir with views of the reservoir, opportunities to spot wildlife, and a nice visitor center.
6.7 miles. Trail surface is mostly easy, with some rocks/roots in areas. The end of this loop is very flat – mostly level dirt or gravel.
- Shorter: Perimeter Trail only, 5.5 miles. Starts from the lot, and goes either direction from there.
- Short: Several options from the visitor center: Shoreline trail (BLUE) at 2.0 miles, and Orchard (GREEN) or Timber (RED) both around a half mile each.
- Longer: Add 1.5 miles by adding a worthwhile loop on ORANGE, and perhaps a bit more if some trail portions are overlapped around the visitor center… but otherwise, that’s all the trail here.
Update 1/6/17 – Re-hiked, added fall photos. Update 2/1/14 – Re-hiked and description updated, GPS file added, winter photos added.
Rest Rooms: Bathrooms are in the visitor center. If you arrive before it opens, try the boat launch area next to the visitor center for a porta-john. There is also a porta-john by the NW1 Dike parking area (marked on the trail map).
Hike Directions: RED (Timber) – BLUE (Shoreline) – YELLOW (Farmstead) – BLACK (Perimeter).
0.0 – From the parking lot, walk towards the visitor center. While facing the door, walk around the right side of the building. Trails start from a bit behind the visitor center.
0.2 – At the marker behind the visitor center, veer LEFT to start following RED (Timber), which will go around the “deer enclosure area” marked on the trail map and to the edge of the water. [GPS: Red/BLUE-RED] (The RED and BLUE trails also go to the right.)
0.6 – Continue straight, now following BLUE (Shoreline). [GPS: BLUE/RED Timber] (To the right, RED (Timber) will return to the visitor center.)
0.9 – Continue straight on BLUE (Shoreline). [GPS: BLUE/YELFarm1] (YELLOW (Farmstead) is on the RIGHT)
1.0 – Bear LEFT and continue on BLUE (Shoreline). [GPS: BLUE/YELFarm2] (YELLOW (Farmstead) is to the RIGHT) Pass a post on the left that is for a side trail to a wildlife blind.
1.8 – Turn LEFT, now following YELLOW (Farmstead). [GPS: BLUE/YELFarm3] (YELLOW (Farmstead) also goes to the RIGHT, heading back towards the visitor center but it’s not indicated.)
2.1 – Turn LEFT and start following BLACK (Perimeter) [GPS: Perimeter/YEL] (YELLOW (Farmstead) continues straight and will meet up with other trails that lead back to the visitor center.)
Soon, cross the Merrill Creek on a footbridge, then the trail hugs the shoreline.
2.9 – Cross NW Dike 2.
3.1 – The trail turns right and then back to arrive at the NW Dike 1 parking lot, porta-john, and hawk watch. [GPS: NW1DIKE Cross through a fence to enter the lot, and then veer right, continuing to follow BLACK (Perimeter) as it crosses NW Dike 1.
Continue following the BLACK markers as the Perimeter trail goes around the reservoir and through an area of pines devastated by storms.
4.3 – Turn LEFT on the paved road, walk through the gate, and cross the Main Dam. [GPS: MainDamTrails] (There is a lower trail option without views of the reservoir, though it’s not that obvious)
5.9 – Cross SE Dike. Continue following the dirt/gravel road as it heads to the boat trailer parking area.
6.6 – At the boat trailer parking area [GPS: BoatLaunch], look across the lot to the left for the BLACK (Perimeter) trail, near a small building.
Follow BLACK (Perimeter) straight to get back to the parking lot, passing GREEN (Orchard) on the right.
Hiked: 1/1/16. Trail Blog: “Merrill Creek on New Year’s Day“
Hiked: 2/1/14. Trail Blog: “Merrill Creek Reservoir in the Snow“
Hiked: 11/21/10. Trail Blog: “Merrill Creek Reservoir in November“