Family-Friendly HIKING in Southern Michigan
Five TOP Metro Detroit Hiking Trails
After being inside for so long, you might need a small escape. It’s easy to get antsy, but you don’t have to travel far to get over cabin fever. The best way to detox from all of the tech overload is to spend some time in the pure Michigan great outdoors, taking in the fresh air, beautiful views and exploring the hiking and biking trails in Metro Detroit.
Luckily, there are miles of paved paths and many places for safely-distanced nature walks in southeast Michigan and metro Detroit. From county parks to Oakland County’s West Bloomfield trail system to the Huron-Clinton metroparks, Michigan trails are everywhere.
Taking a nature walk along the scenic trails in southeast Michigan is the perfect activity for these times. It’s remote, promotes health, and walking through nature reduces stress and boosts endorphins. For Michiganders, a nature walk gives you the chance to appreciate Michigan’s natural beauty, and you don’t even have to go up north.
Read on to discover where you should get outside in metro Detroit this weekend!
4570 Huron River Parkway Milford, MI 48380
Kensington Metropark in Milford, Michigan is a much beloved destination for avid nature walkers. The park has 4,481 acres of terrain in total, with lakes, rivers, woods, and islands to explore your heart’s content. There are over 16 trails, each more beautiful and wild than the last.
Don’t get intimidated by the vastness though- there are different distances for different preferences. Want to really get lost in the woods? Try the Wildwing Trail. Only here for a quick brush with nature? Take the shortcut on the Aspen Trail.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a nature walk if you didn’t experience some wildlife. There are so many different animal species in this Huron Metropark , whether that’s the domestic farm animals in the Farm Center, or the deer running through the forest.
Kensington is also legendary to expert and amateur birders alike. The park is home to many different bird species, large and small. While you’re out looking for robins or cardinals, you might be surprised by a crane, heron, or even a wild turkey.
Perhaps the most exciting activity of all, though, is feeding the small birds right out of your hand. If you’re armed with patience, respect, and lots of bird seed, you might be lucky enough to have some feathered friends land on you. Check out the aptly named Chickadee Trail to see for yourself. Park passes can be purchased online or upon entry.
E.L. Johnson Nature Center
3325 Franklin Rd, Bloomfield Twp, MI 48302
When you’re thinking of quaint, rustic places, Bloomfield Hills probably isn’t the first place to come to mind. However, the E.L. Johnson Nature Center is a haven of natural beauty and wildlife for metro Detroiters.
Operated by Bloomfield Hills Schools, the nature center provides educational opportunities for the surrounding school district. Fortunately for us, you don’t have to be a student to take advantage of the amazing scenery and extensive woods.
There are two miles of hiking trails, and the park features an inland pond, rolling hills, and not-so-secret lookouts. Upon entry, you’ll be greeted by the nature center’s rescued animals, including a deer, hawks, and an owl. If you look close enough, you’ll find plenty of other woodland creatures joining you on your walk as well.
On top of a wonderful nature hike, you’ll also get a history lesson when you visit E.L. Johnson Nature Center. The 1800s homestead in the middle of the center is an example of authentic Michigan life two centuries ago, water pumps, firewood, and all.
It’s an amazing opportunity to really immerse yourself in the surrounding untouched beauty. Entry to the E.L. Johnson Nature Center is free, but donations are encouraged.
Maybury State Park
49601 Eight Mile Rd, Northville, MI 48167
Maybury State Park in Northville offers an abundance of history, recreational activities, and lush forest views to its visitors in this stunning nature preserve. Around 1,000 acres of woodsy terrain are open for you to hike/bike the dirt and paved trails, try new outdoors hobbies, or take in the storied past of Maybury.
Back in the early 20th century, the park was actually the grounds of the Maybury Sanitarium for tuberculosis patients. And while the facility was closed in the 1970s, there are still informative signs throughout the park detailing the significance of the location.
Now, the park is known for being the ideal place to picnic and take in incredible views. There are 26 miles of park trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross country skiing spanning through the woods. There’s a track chair program for accessible travel throughout the park as well. The chairs were donated by Michigan native Kali Pung.
Belle Isle Park
99 Pleasure Drive, Detroit MI, 48207
Although many of us know Belle Isle as a summer beach getaway, it’s also one of the best places for a nature walk in Metro Detroit. The park has phenomenal 360 degree views of the Detroit skyline, the neighboring Canadian border, and Lake St. Clair.
And on top of the extraordinary surroundings, the park itself is a sight to see. The tiny island has beautifully preserved nature just waiting for your next walk.
The Blue Heron Lagoon Trail on the northeast tip of the island is a beloved escape for many Detroiters. The trail loops through the wetland between the Blue Heron Lagoon and the Detroit River, making for a serene hike. Or for the full effect, you can hike the perimeter of the 5.4 mile island and stay by the shore.
Stony Creek Metropark
4300 Main Park Dr, Shelby Charter Twp, MI 48316
When walking through Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Twp, you’ll feel like you’re walking through several different parks. That’s not just because Stony Creek has over 4,461 acres of pristine rolling land, it’s also because Stony Creek has a diverse terrain consisting of woods, prairies, beaches, and wetlands.
And to match the varied landscape, there are so many fun activities to do, from biking to golfing, skiing to swimming. Of course, our main focus are the trails of Stony Creek, with over 10 to choose from.
Lined with trees, these nature trails will immerse you into a different world, and you’ll be completely wonderstruck with the lush landscape.
You’ll also have the opportunity to scope out Michigan’s native species, like osprey, deer, and the occasional snake (just watch where you walk!). Between the extensive scenery and beautiful rolling trails, Stony Creek Metropark is an amazing getaway in the middle of metro Detroit.
Looking for more hiking trip ideas or trails in Michigan’s beautiful landscape to explore? Try these favorites:
Hiking Trails In and Around Metro Detroit
The Dequindre Cut Greenway – You can pick up this urban recreational path in Detroit MI along the Detroit Riverwalk. The Dequindre Cut Greenway is a two-mile path offering a pedestrian link between the East Riverfront, Eastern Market and several residential neighborhoods in between.
Hines Park in Wayne County – A favorite in the Detroit Metro Area, some of the trails here run alongside the Rouge River.
Lower Huron Metroparks Trails
- River Raisin Heritage Trail
- Lake Erie Metropark
Ann Arbor Area Trails
- Pinckney Recreation Area
- Huron River Water Trail in Ann Arbor
- Proud Lake State Recreation Area – Proud Lake State Recreation Area in Howell is located on the scenic Huron River
Oakland County Hiking Trails
- Penosha Trail
- Paint Creek Trail
- West Bloomfield Trails
Macomb County Hiking Trails
- Clinton River Trail
- Macomb Orchard Trail in Shelby Township
- Bald Mountain in Lake Orion
- Polly Ann Trail – This 34-mile long trail runs from Orion Township in Oakland County to North Branch, MI. The trail surface is asphalt, ballast and crushed stone. Horseback riding, biking, cross-country skiing and mountain biking are also allowed along this trail.
- Inwood Hiking Trails
More Michigan Hiking Trails
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Follow miles of trails through this stunning 35,000-acre old-growth forest featuring roaring waterfalls, a river trail, miles of streams and spectacular views of the Lake of the Clouds.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a true gem in the Upper Peninsula, and the escarpment trail is one of the most beautiful trails for hiking in the state of Michigan. Also nearby is the Ottawa National Forest, full of even more natural beauty for take in.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – This national lakeshore along Lake Superior offers miles of hiking opportunities, as well as stunning views of the Pictured Rocks, marsh trails, lake trails, forest trails and our personal favorite, the Chapel Basin Loop Trail. Be sure and stop by the visitors center for a trail map.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Sleeping Bear Dunes reputation speaks for itself. Wander through one bay trail after another and be rewarded with Sleeping Bear’s sweeping vistas of Lake Michigan.
Find a lakeshore trail and reap the rewards of stunning views of the Manitou Islands. When you’re finished hiking, pop into nearby Glen Arbor or Traverse City, two of northern Michigan’s top vacation destinations.
Isle Royale National Park – If you’re up to some serious hiking in the pure Michigan wilderness, look into planning a trip to Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior.
This 45 mile-long island is the second largest island in the Great Lakes (after Canada’s Manitoulin Island) and requires a four hour ferry ride from Copper Harbor in the Upper Peninsula. Once you’re on the island, however, the opportunities for hiking through pristine forest are endless.
About the Author
Nora Rhein is a student at Wayne State University majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Theatre Management. She writes for publications like The South End student newspaper and Ease Up Magazine. She also serves as the Low Brass Section Leader in the Warrior Marching Band, and loves to explore Michigan’s beautiful parks with her greyhound, Skyrocket.