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Escape to the Hiking Trails of Detroit

Posted on Thursday, November 01 2012 in Outdoors

MillikinStatePark2 AndyGalbraith

There are more ways to get around the Motor City than on wheels. Detroit is home to great hiking trails for those who prefer to travel by foot. With nature trails stretching along the water and throughout Wayne, Macomb and Oakland Counties, Detroit has the perfect relaxing, natural park for when you need to climb out from behind the steering wheel and escape to the trails of downtown and the surrounding countryside.

Huron-Clinton Metroparks: The 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks cover nearly 25,000 acres and are home to more than 55 miles of paved hiking and biking trails, as well as golf courses and picnic areas. The natural environments in the park system provide 9 million annual visitors with an oasis from the city, and a place to cool down when the weather heats up, with swimming and boating areas.

Hines Parkway: Stretching from Northville to Dearborn along the banks of the Rouge River, the Hines Parkway on Edward Hines Drive features 15 miles of baseball diamonds, soccer fields, grilling areas and hiking and biking trails. Families and athletes often take advantage of the shady parks, and the autumn color tour is one of the best in Michigan. In the winter there is sledding and ice skating, as well as the famous Wayne County Lightfest.

Paint Creek Trail: Located in Oakland County, the 8.9-mile linear park features an eight-foot-wide crushed limestone trail for hikers, joggers, bikers, horses and cross-country skiers. The trail “traverses Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Orion Township and the Village of Orion.”

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William G. Milliken State Park & Harbor: A green oasis in the heart of Detroit, William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor is “the first urban state park and is a showcase of the natural resources collected throughout all of Michigan's state parks.” The park features wetland, trails and riverwalk, perfect for a picnic in the city.

Bald Mountain State Recreation Area: Picturesque Bald Mountain Recreation Area is a great place for the serious hiker, with 4,637 acres of rolling, sometimes steep, hills and rugged terrain. Extensive trails around inland lakes and along trout streams provide additional recreational opportunities.

Belle Isle: No place says nature in Detroit quite like Belle Isle. Among all the island’s attractions, the five miles of scenic shoreline and extensive trails and paths make Belle Isle the perfect place to take a stroll. Along the way, enjoy the views of freighters, ships and pleasure boaters in the Detroit River, America’s busiest inland waterway.

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Detroit RiverWalk: The 5.5-mile-promenade runs from the Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle and connects Hart Plaza, Chene Park, Mt. Elliot Park and William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor. The park doubles as a place for exercise and a waterfront escape. And with so many festivals, the RiverWalk is a great place to see and be seen as you walk one of the city’s most popular paths.

Dequindre Cut: Among the city’s new greenways, the Dequindre Cut is one of the most popular. The first phase runs along the former Grand Trunk Railroad Line and beautifully incorporates nature with preserved graffiti art, as well as new artwork along the way. The path features separate paved lanes for foot traffic and for bikers, and provides a unique perspective of Detroit’s history and future.

If you’re feeling really outdoorsy, catch a charter boat ride and go fishing with Captain Doug Samsal, a Bass Pro Shop “Preferred Guide.” He targets walleye on the St. Clair River, bass on Lake St. Clair, and muskie on Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit and St. Clair rivers. Get a firsthand account of fishing on Lake St. Clair in our Visit Detroit Magazine feature story "Reel Detroit," and check out Captain Doug’s website for more info.

Learn more about Detroit’s Riverfront and Greenways:

Where’s your favorite place to take an afternoon stroll around Detroit? Do you have a favorite hiking trail?

Instagram Photos: Photo 1 – Millikin State Park by Andy Galbraith; Photo 2 – Detroit RiverWalk by BrownEyed_Girl00; Photo 3 – Belle Isle by BrownEyed_Girl00

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