Michigan Trail Tuesday: Sessions Lake Hiking Trail, Ionia State Recreation Area

Michigan Trail Tuesday: Sessions Lake Hiking Trail, Ionia State Recreation Area

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Ionia Michigan

Michigan Trail Tuesday is our attempt to showcase a different trail or trail segment each week. The Mitten State is home to thousands of miles of trails, including the new Iron Belle Trail that runs from Detroit in the southeast to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula and more miles of the North Country Trail than any other state.

The Sessions Lake Hiking Trail at Ionia State Recreation Area is a moderate difficulty almost four mile trail that showcases some of the best things the park has to offer. The trail loops around the 110 acre lake as it passes by a boat launch, campground, disc golf course, beach, picnic area, and more. We recently had the chance to tackle this hike on our first visit to Ionia State Recreation Area, and we absolutely loved it. Today we’ll show off some pictures from the hike and take you through it while also sharing everything else this 4,500 acre recreation area has to offer.

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Ionia Trailhead

Since the hiking trail loops around the lake there are many different spots you can start from. The trail distance is listed as 3.65 miles if starting from the campground and 3.45 miles if started anywhere else. You can find a map online ahead of time or look at the ones that are posted at multiple points along the trail. We began our journey from the parking area near the boat launch, at marker #8. The trail headed into the woods before dipping down to lower ground and crossing over some small creeks. This was a pretty scenic spot, especially with the first signs of spring popping through with bright green color.

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Creek Views Ionia SRA

After this the trail makes a bit of an uphill climb and passes through the disc golf course. We had to make sure we were still on the main trail here and heading to marker #9 as we continued to follow the ridge. Roughly 3/4 mile in to our hike we reached a tall bridge over Sessions Creek that offers some beautiful views.

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Bench View Ionia

There is a bit of an uphill climb after this bridge, but soon after we were rewarded with some great views of the lake. We could see and hear swans and geese and even noted some turtles catching sun on logs near the shore. The trail continues to follow around the lake for a mile before intersecting with the spur trail that leads tot he campground (marker #2).

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Map Ionia

A short distance after the campground there is a picnic and day use area (marker #3). The trail crosses a park road here, then in a short distance meets another park road and follows on the side of it heading to the spillway and beach.

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Spillway

This is the most out in the open stretch of the entire trail but it gives some great views of the lake as you approach the spillway.

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Ionia SRA Beach Area

From the spillway the trail heads into a grassy area that we found to be quite wet due to recent rain and spring melt. You will want good boots for the rest of this hike if there has been any kind of recent wet weather. As we passed through this grassy area we imagined in a month or so it would be full of birds and butterflies as well as some colorful flowers. We had now passed markers #4 and #5 and the beach area.

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Road Crossing

The half mile from marker #5 to #6 was on a wide grassy path that was very wet. We slogged our way through, puzzled by the lack of birds and a little underwhelmed by the scenery after the first half of the hike had been so beautiful. The trail crosses another park road at #6 and starts to overlap with the disc golf course again.

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Disc Golf Course

Passing by what looked to be a fun and challenging disc golf hole with a water hazard, we continued on toward marker #7 which is just before the boat launch parking area. It was less than a half mile from here back to the car, and the end of our nearly four mile hike.

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Ionia County Michigan

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Ionia Bridge Creek

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Rocky Creek Ionia SRA

Sessions Lake Hiking Trail Map Woods Ionia

We loved the Sessions Lake Hiking Trail and will definitely be back (and we will be better prepared for trail conditions). This was a very scenic hike and should normally be more promising for bird and wildlife observation. The Audubon Society has identified nearly 200 different birds at this park, which was part of the reason why we wanted to check it out and why we were surprised we saw hardly anything. The trail is well-maintained and other than the uphill sections was not very demanding.

Ionia State Recreation Area Session Lake Hiking Trail

Ionia State Recreation Area is also home to 10 miles of cross country ski trails, 15 miles of equestrian trails, and a nine mile mountain biking trail that is also open to hiking. We liked that with these other activities having their own space we didn’t have to worry about running into bikers or horseback riders while hiking the Sessions Lake Hiking Trail, and it’s great that this beautiful property has so many options for outdoor recreation!