Hiking is both enjoyable and a great way to get fit. It is also a way to learn a little of Michigan’s history since many trails also have an interesting history, such as a converted rail to trail, or a landmark like the lighthouse on Belle Isle. Some have special attractions that are unique to the location, like seeing Detroit Mounted Police riding through the park. Many trails are in parks so that you can take the family along and participate in other activities after the hike, such as swimming or golfing. Get your walking shoes ready and discover what Metropolitan Detroit’s hiking trails have to offer.
Palmer Park
910 Merrill Plaisance
Detroit, MI 48203
(313) 757-2751

Palmer Park is one Detroit’s landmarks, located by the historic Palmer Woods neighborhood, near Woodward and 7 Mile Road. The 296-acre park is more than 100 years old, and a rich part of Detroit history. The park, designed by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmstead and Charles Eliot, was donated to the City of Detroit by Thomas W. Palmer in the late 1800s. It is a scenic place to hike because of the lovely gardens, well-tended lawns, the golf course, Detroit Mounted Police on horseback, a historic log cabin, and the forest area. In fact, Palmer Park has the largest virgin forest in the Tri-County area of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, and is one of only seven Detroit parks to have old-growth forest land, where many trees are more than 150 years old. The forest has remained a haven for song birds and small wildlife for over a century. Palmer Park is also home to the Step to Greater Health Community Walking Club, which meets Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. during April-November. Club members meet up at Splash Park, located within Palmer Park, at 6 p.m. Participation is free, but registration is necessary. Visit the Olive Seed site for registration details. Palmer Park is open to the public for walking and many other recreational activities, such as tennis and golf, from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. every day.

Detroit Riverfront
Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
600 Renaissance Center, Suite 1720
Detroit, MI 48243
(313) 566-8200

If you enjoy walking by the water and want to take your dog along, the Detroit Riverfront is a good place to try. The Detroit Riverfront is part of the Detroit International Riverwalk project, which includes the East Riverfront and the Dequindre cut. The East Riverfront, which starts at Joe Louis Arena and ends at Gabriel Park, currently has a 2 ½ mile paved trail, but will eventually expand to 3 ½ miles. The Dequindre Cut is a 1 ½ mile greenway, developed out of the former Grand Trunk Railroad line, and links to the East Riverfront. The Detroit International Riverwalk project will eventually include a West Riverfront path starting at the Ambassador Bridge and ending at Gabriel Park. Walking along the Detroit Riverfront, you can enjoy the fresh air by the water, taking in the urban scenery of the nearby plazas and parks. The Detroit Riverwalk is free and open to the public from 6 a.m.-10:30 p.m. every day.

Belle Isle Park
2 Inselruhe Ave.
Detroit, MI 48207
(844) 235-5375

Detroit’s own state park, Belle Isle, is one of the city’s most scenic locations to hike. The 985-acre park is an island, located on the Detroit River between the USA and Canada, has lush woodlands, wildlife, gardens and trails for walking and biking. As you explore the island, you can see some of Detroit’s landmarks, such as the James Scott Memorial Fountain, Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. You can also walk along the water at the beach. When you take a break, you can stop in the Belle Isle Nature Zoo and see live deer up close in the Deer Encounter Exhibit, or see the 118 species of fish at the Belle Isle Aquarium. A recreation pass is required for admission to Belle Isle Park. Annual recreation passes to all Michigan State Parks can be purchased when you renew your Michigan driver’s license. However, day pass stickers can also be purchased when you enter Belle Isle, if you don’t have a current recreation pass. Belle Isle is open 5 a.m.-10 p.m.every day all year.

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Paint Creek Trail
Paint Creek Trailways Commission
Paint Creek Cider Mill
4480 Orion Road
Rochester, MI 48306
(248) 651-9260

Paint Creek Trail. located next to Rochester Municipal Park, is 8.9 miles long and runs through Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Village of Lake Orion and Orion Township. The linear park opened in 1983 and was Michigan’s first non-motorized rail to trail. Paint Creek Trail begins in Rochester and ends in the Village of Lake Orion at Atwater Street. You can enjoy a walk through shady trees, vibrant green land and see small wildlife on paved and natural paths. Hikers should be aware that cyclists and horseback riders may also be on the trail. Paint Creek Trail is free admission to the public. The trail is open 365 days a year from a 1/2 hour before sunrise to a 1/2 hour after sunset.

Stage Nature Center
6685 Coolidge Highway
Troy, MI 48098
(248) 688-9703

Stage Nature Center is offers a two mile of trail that allows hikers to explore the center’s 80 acres. On the trail, you can walk through the wetlands, forests, marshes, maple sugarbush and along Rouge River. The area is home to many songbirds, especially blackbirds and bluebirds, deer and wildlife. The trail is for walking only. Stage Nature Center trail is free and open daily from sunrise to sunset.

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Adrienne Warber is a Freelance Writer with more than 15 years of professional writing experience. After earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from the University of Michigan, Adrienne worked in marketing, where she specialized in communications writing. She is now a full-time freelance writer and writes on many topics, ranging from arts and events to crafts and health. Her work has appeared both in print and online. Her work can be found at Examiner.com and adriennewarber.com.