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Detroit isn’t always given credit for its natural beauty, but we’re going to stop you right there. Close to the city, you can find sprawling country roads, tall trees, countless lakes, farms, and gorgeous spots to take in some nature and hike.
There are so many options just outside the city and also within a 45-minute drive, making for the perfect active daycation! Ready to explore? Strap those hiking boots on and check out our list below.
Let’s start with the one closest to the city… well, actually, in the city. If you don’t have the time to venture out to a park, this little urban oasis is perfect for you. Starting down at the Detroit RiverWalk, the Dequindre Cut is an urban recreational path built on the old Grand Trunk Railway. You won’t need your hiking boots for this one—as people prefer biking, walking, jogging here—but there are no stop lights, crosswalks, or anything preventing you from enjoying the fresh air, greenery, and urban artwork of this cool Detroit staple.
About 45 minutes north of the city, you can find a sprawling county park accessible all year. Surrounding the large Stony Creek Lake, this park has challenging trails to get in a quality hike — each path is worth more than one go ’round and can offer something unique. This place truly has the ‘up north’ vibe without the four-hour drive and is one of our favorite places to explore on a crisp fall day. Fitt Tip: For some really beautiful views, check out the East Lake Trails.
Pack some extra trail mix because Bald Mountain is one of the most challenging terrains in this part of Michigan. Needless to say, we’re totally up for the challenge… and always down for trail mix. There are two separate areas of the recreational area, but both north and south areas offer great hiking. Each trail is a different color ‘loop’, but our clear fave is the 3.6-mile Graham Lakes Trail (aka the Orange Loop) for its lakeside traverses and interesting ascents. Venture here whenever and often.
Belle Isle, a skip from the city, is a Michigan state park that’s accessible all year round for gorgeous hikes, insane views of the growing city, and some unexpected wildlife. The park is an island—which is super cool—and is actually the biggest island park in the nation (almost 1,000 acres!). There are so many ways to escape to nature here — from tree-lined paths to beaches with amazing city views and even an aquarium. And word on the street is that there are major renewal plans for this park!
Not too far from Bald Mountain is a charming hiking trail called Paint Creek Trail. This rail-to-trail project near Lake Orion and Rochester Hills is perfect for a relaxing hike, perfect for the same people who enjoy glamping. It won’t be your most challenging trek, but it sure will be peaceful and scenic! Bonus: You can take the trail to the historically charming downtown Lake Orion for some post-hike eats, coffee, or treats! We know we will.
The West Bloomfield Trail is one of the local favorites and is just 45 minutes from downtown. Bikers, hikers, and marathon trainers alike come here to breathe in the fresh air. Like the Paint Creek Trail, the West Bloomfield Trail also used to be a railroad, so imagine chugging along as you pass lakes, beautiful suburban neighborhoods, ponds, and marshes. End to end, the trail is only seven miles long, but that’s ideal for a good weekend hike.
If you are in for the long haul, take a hike on the Macomb Orchard Trail. Hiking 24 miles — all in a day’s work, right? Okay, no one is that ambitious in a day, but you can for sure partake in good biking, walking, marathon training, snowshoeing, and photography in this area. Need some photo inspiration? There are lots of quaint towns and markets to stop into, and there are some seriously beautiful views of the Clinton River.
Proud Lake Recreation Area is a real sight to behold. Bring your camera for this one because you’ll see lakes, vast wetlands, tall forest trees, and some wildlife (if you are lucky). Our favorite tromp is the six-mile River Trail for the access to the Huron River — in addition to the picturesque views, you can also bring your kayak or canoe for a river cruise (perhaps bring a few beers or kombuchas to turn your canoe into a cabrew) for the perfect summer afternoon. In the winter, bust out those cross-country skis for the ultimate workout in a winter wonderland.