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WHERE TO RIDE: THE BEST BIKE TRAILS AROUND DETROIT

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MICHAEL MUELLER

JUL 16, 2019

Detroit is home to some of the world’s most astonishing trails. Some are paved, some are rocky, some even have wooded pathways. But they all have one thing in common: they give you the opportunity to get outside, take in some beautiful weather and scenery, and break a killer sweat — all at the same time. That, friends, is what we’re all about.

Big or small, short or long, there’s a bike trail for you — and we’re here to help you find it.

Border-to-Border — sound intimidating? Well, hang on just a minute. Stretching from Wayne County in the east to Livingston County in the northwest, the Border-to-Border Trail may be the perfect daylong ride if you’re looking to get in an awesome workout. Cutting through parts of Michigan’s open countryside to full-on cities like Ann Arbor, this trail is guaranteed to give you that variety you crave. Not sure if you want to tackle the entire 19.7 miles? No problem. Just plan accordingly and turn around halfway. However, if you think you can tackle the trip all the way to Ann Arbor, be sure to grab a beer upon arrival — you deserve it!

A 63-foot-tall lighthouse, picnic areas, and shoreline fishing? What more could you ask for? The Detroit RiverWalk is one of Detroit’s most iconic trails — an essential 3.5-mile route for the trail warrior seeking to take on the Motor City. Bordering the river (big surprise… we know), you’ll be able to take in waterfront views on one end and the Ren Cen on the other — it’s ideal for a day outing. And listen, we know you may just want to blow past some of the touristy sights, but be sure to stop at Cullen Family Carousel, it features animals all native to the Detroit River. Come on, you know it sounds cool.

Even though this is a multi-segment trip starting in Rouge River Gateway Greenway, let’s just call it Hines Park Trail for the sanity for everybody involved. The nearly 20-mile Hines Park Trail sounds like the perfect trail for a glute-burning workout on a casual day off. With famous sights along the way like the historic Henry Ford Estate and Edward N. Hines Drive—which is always full of classic cars—what’s not to love? And of course, there’s also Hines Park, home to picnickers, gazebos, sports of all sorts, ponds, and playgrounds. Just don’t forget your water — it’s a scarce commodity on this trail!

Sometimes, you just don’t have time to make your workout anything but simple. No worries — we get it. That’s why we’ve included Dequindre Cut Greenway on this list. Cutting right through downtown and only spanning about two miles, DCG is the perfect go-to trail to smash a quick ride, get the blood flowing, then get back to your priorities. Grocery shopping on your to-do list? Bring your basket or backpack and stop at Eastern Market for their farmers market every Saturday.

Thanks to volunteers, MI DOT, and recreation enthusiasts, I-275 Metro Trail is still in working order. Created back in the 1970s in response to the fuel crisis at the time, this trail has history. Running between Novi and Boston, the 40-mile trail is a connecting point to a handful of other hot spots. Crush the entire 40 miles, just do half, or go an extra 20 by taking it to the Rogue River Gateway Greenway — the choice is all yours. One main access point is at 8 Mile Rd., if you’re looking to begin downtown and head to Ann Arbor for a drink.

Waterfalls, wildlife, hilly terrain, and over 4,000 acres of land. If you’re seeking to bask in every beautiful aspect of nature while taking on a leg-pumping workout (without going too far), Kensington is your spot! With more than two and a half million visitors each year, you know it stands up to all the hype. Check it out for yourself and enjoy the scenery. And don’t be afraid to visit more than once, they offer all sorts of fun activities for every season, including cross-country skiing, tobogganing, golf, and fishing. Just beware: once you fall in love with Kensington — there’s no goin’ back.

Love the trail scene but not into the uneven pavement or rocky roads? Lower Rogue River Recreation Trail aims to give a bit of a different feel to your ride, and it does just that. The four-mile pathway consists of mostly wooded paths, but make sure to stop at Heritage Park after your ride to make a day of it. Enjoy picnic areas, golfing clubhouses, and even athletic fields. And if you’re not feeling the whole four miles, stop and chill atop a few of the eight bridges along the way. Hey, as long as your outside, moving your muscles, you’re doing great. You don’t always have to pedal until you can’t feel your legs.

Since we’re talking iconic trails in the Detroit area, we simply can’t forget the Stony Creek Metropark Trail. With two main options—six miles of paved path or 14 miles of heavily wooded, hilly dirt trails—both the thrill-seekers and the joyriders can appreciate this one. Be sure to bring both your 'A' game and your helmet if you plan to take on the 14 miles of off-road trails — they are nothing to joke about. And helmets are required… that’s another, solid reason why you should bring them.

With plans to span all the way from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron, this former railroad corridor is seven miles of heaven. Containing over 150 ponds and 28 lakes, this trail is said to be one of the wettest in the nation. And just wait until mile five — that’s where the real fun begins. There, you’ll see Apple Island, where, legend has it, Chief Pontiac held council to plan an attack on Fort Detroit. Aim to stop here for a picnic while taking in some legendary Detroit history. We do have to warn you, though, if you’re planning to hit the trails be prepared to dodge some deer, raccoons, rabbits, and turtles — especially at the West Bloomfield Woods Nature Preserve at mile 2.6.

Resting on the Detroit River between Michigan and Ontario, the Gross Ile Trail is sure to fit your sightseeing fancy as you feel the wind in your hair. Besides the views of the river, Grosse Ile Township is home to a number of more-than-elegant homes. Still not convinced? Take the recommended on-road loop to see the Michigan Central train depot and take in some railroad history. Just remember to keep your eyes on the road — you will hit something otherwise.