Ranger at home in local State Park

Ortonville – Dennis Wilson, 37, has spent 18 years caring for the great outdoors.
‘I really love it here,? said Wilson, the interim caretaker at the Ortonville and Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area.
‘Much different than I thought it would be.When I think of being so close to Flint, I think of wall to wall houses, I was surprised to find so much natural space.?
Wilson hopes to soon land the park supervisory position, a combined administrative position for both the Ortonville Recreation Area and Metamora-Hadley Camp Grounds.
A Kimball, Mi. native, Wilson attended St. Clair Community College, in St. Clair Mi. During his sophomore year he took a job as a summer ranger at Lake Port State Park just north of Port Huron on Lake Huron. What started as a summer employment turned out to be a lifelong commitment, caring for the state parks in Algonac, the Mt. Clemens boating access field office, and Lake Port.
‘From there I applied for a ranger position and I’ve been doing this ever since,? said Wilson, a Port Huron resident, who commutes each day to the area.
Each park, tucked quietly among mature forests and lakes, offers natural beauty has been an historic pleasure trove to hikers, campers, and naturalists for generations.
Ortonville Recreation Area, located at 5779 Hadley Road, Ortonville features a 5,400 acre playground that abuts three counties located between Hadley, Oakwood, and Hegel Roads.
‘These parks offer an excellent opportunity for outdoor recreation,? Wilson said.
Within the park, Bloomer #3 was the original park, donated to the state in 1921 by Howard Bloomer as a game sanctuary, and remains so to this day.
Bloomer #3 also offers a variety of separate hiking and mountain bike trails, laced among natural forestland, creeks, and lakes. The park also includes a shooting range that opened in April.
In 1945 the Ortonville Recreation Area was developed by the Department of Natural Resources Still unchanged, it remains the mother lode of natural gems of lakes, streams, and rolling glacial terrain.
For horse enthusiasts, the 25 site rustic Equestrian Campground is located at the base of the horse trails along the 1,200 foot Pinnacle Point. Point markers are mapped on the trails.
‘This will assist riders to map out their own trail, ? said Wilson.
‘We are in the process of mapping the horse trails for distance.?
‘Our goal is to have it done by the end of the summer,? he said.
Already on the map is Big Fish Lake, located on Hadley Road. The day use lake park features a boat launch limited to 20 vehicles per day, a swimming beach, a bathhouse, and playgrounds. Picnic shelters are provided with preregistration for family reunions, company picnics, or graduations. Tent type awnings are also available with use permit. Fishing for both day users and campers is allowed throughout the recreation area.
The Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area, 3871 Hurd Road, Metamora, in Lapeer County is a 723 acre park, with more than six miles of marked hiking trails, nestled on the 80-acre Lake Minnewanna.
Along the lake, the campground offers 214 campsites with electricity, fire pits, picnic tables and modern rest room facilities.
Day use lake facilities include swimming area, concession, boat and paddle boat rentals, and a picnic shelter. A day use permit is required to enter the park and can be purchased at the site.
Wilson said the campgrounds are the most popular feature of the park and will fill up quickly, so he advises calling ahead for reservations. Wilson said campers are already packing the grounds with over 50 sites booked in May.
‘It’s a busy park because people are finding camping a much more economical way to vacation at an affordable rate,? Wilson said.
While Wilson confirms that both parks are very nice and offer the best of natural resources to the community, his goal is to continue to provide the best experience in a natural source of outdoor recreation to park guests.
‘I love this area but my favorite part of the job is interacting with the park visitors and guests,? said Wilson.

Ortonville Recreation Area
5779 Hadley Road
Ortonville, Mi 48462
(248) 627-3828
Weekend hours 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Equestrian Camp Fee: $13 per night
Day entrance fee is $4 per day

Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area
3871 Hurd Road
Metamora, Mi. 48455
(810) 797-4439
Weekend hours 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Camp site fee: $17 per night
Closed from December-March