While there is no shortage of running paths in the Detroit area, not all of them offer the same scenic value. Nothing helps motivate runners more than beautiful scenery. Find that extra motivation and enjoy these Detroit paths year round.

Photo Credit: Belleisleconvervancy.org

Belle Isle
Detroit, MI
(313) 628-2081

Price: free

This park is situated on a 983-acre island in the middle of the Detroit River. Along the outer perimeter road, runners will enjoy scenic views of Shoreline Drive in Windsor, Canada, on one side of the island and a skyline view of Detroit on the opposite side of the island. The scenic diversions offered on this island escape change with the seasons, providing an especially beautiful landscape when the leaves begin to change color in the fall. The outer perimeter provides nearly a 6-mile run, while those who wish to have a longer run can use the inter-connected roads throughout the interior of the island to create a 10-mile, or longer, route.

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Hines Parkway
32401 Edward N. Hines Dr.
Westland, MI 48185
(734) 261-1990

Price: free

The Hines Parkway encompasses a number of smaller parks and recreation areas situated along Edward Hines Drive, which runs alongside the Middle Rouge River and extends 17 miles from downtown Dearborn to Northville. Runners have a number of options at their disposal for parking and run start locations. Throughout much of the parkway system, an asphalt path runs parallel to Hines Drive. Runners on this pathway will enjoy scenic views of the river, ponds, small lakes, open fields and old mills, some of which were originally used by Henry Ford to manufacture parts for Ford Motor Company. Runners who enjoy an evening jaunt in late November through December may also enjoy the sights of the Wayne County Lightfest.

Photo Credit: Detroitriverfront.org

The Detroit Riverfront 
Detroit, MI 48243
(313) 566-8200

Price: varies dependent upon parking location
Hours: daily – 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

This 5.5-mile pathway runs from the Ambassador Bridge eastward along the Detroit River to Belle Isle. It provides scenic views of the Detroit River for much of the route. Other interesting sights along this route include Joe Louis Arena, COBO Hall, Hart Plaza, the Renaissance Center, William G. Milliken State Park, Stroh River Place, Chene Park and the Dequindre Cut Greenway. This pathway arguably offers some of the greatest scenic variety of any path in the city, providing runners a true taste of all Detroit has to offer. Consider combining the Detroit Riverfront trail with the Belle Isle outer perimeter path, as desired, to create a longer running route.

Photo Credit: Paintcreektrail.org

Paint Creek Trail
400 Sixth St.
Rochester, MI 48307
(248) 651-9260

Price: free
Hours: daily – 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A former railway bed, this was the first rail-to-trail linear park conversion in the state. It extends nearly nine miles from downtown Rochester, through Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Orion Township, ending in the village of Lake Orion. Scenic views along this route include Paint Creek, former cider mills, beautiful homes and a wide variety of wildlife. Free parking is available at multiple points along the path, allowing runners to select a location suitable to create running routes of varied lengths.

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Kensington Metropark
2240 W. Buno Rd.
Milford, MI 48380
(248) 685-1561

Price: $5 day pass/$25 annual pass
Hours: daily – 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

One of 13 parks that make up the Huron-Clinton Metropark system, Kensington Metropark encompasses 4,481 acres of varied terrain surrounding the 1,200-acre Kent Lake. Runners who prefer a paved surface will enjoy an 8.5-mile pathway around the lake, which offers a multitude of scenic views as well as several, thigh-burning, lung-searing hills. Those who wish to change up their workout routine may also use the park’s 20-station fitness trail featuring a balance beam, overhead ladder and pull-up bars. As with many locations throughout the Detroit area, this path is especially picturesque during the peak of autumn foliage. Those who enjoy a beautiful sunrise or sunset should time their runs around those times of day as they’re especially beautiful here.

Jim is a native “Michigander” and avid automotive enthusiast. An ASE certified Master Automobile Technician turned engineer and freelance writer, Jim’s articles reflect a passion for Metropolitan Detroit and the many things the region has to offer. His work can be found at Examiner.com.