Not exactly the outdoorsy type? Well, how about test-driving Michigan’s great outdoors along one of its many scenic trails?
Whether you like to walk, run, bike or ride, the Great Lakes State has a rail trail, bikeway, riverwalk or trailway for you. And fall is the perfect time to get out and discover your favorite trail.
“Michigan is the No. 1 trails state in the nation,” said Paul Yauk, Department of Natural Resources state trail coordinator. “We’re pretty blessed here in Michigan not only with a great infrastructure of trails, but also four beautiful seasons for people to enjoy them.”
To celebrate its extensive trail network, the state has designated Sept. 17–24 as Michigan Trails Week and is encouraging residents and visitors to get out and start a new adventure.
Mark your calendars
The high point of Michigan Trails Week is Sept. 24’s National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest single-day volunteer event for public lands.
“Help preserve Michigan’s public lands by volunteering your time, making a financial contribution or simply telling others about Michigan’s woods and waters,” Yauk said.
Carol Rose of the Michigan Wildlife Council, a statewide public body that promotes the importance of conservation and wildlife management, said a growing network of state and local trails enhances the quality of life for folks across the state.
“There’s so much to see and do once you start exploring. Each trail has its own natural wonders – we just have to get outside and go for it,” Rose said.
Iron Belle spans the state
The Iron Belle Trail is the newest addition to Michigan’s thousands of miles of recreational trails. Two routes make up the Iron Belle Trail: one for hikers (1,273 miles) and one for bicyclists (791 miles). Both routes stretch from Belle Isle Park in Detroit to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula.
The routes largely utilize existing trails across the state. Today, both routes are more than 60 percent completed.
“You can’t talk about Michigan trails without talking about the Iron Belle. This is already an amazing trail and is getting better every day thanks to the cooperation of federal, state and local agencies,” Yauk said.
Here are a few Yauk suggests in Southeast Michigan:
Paint Creek Trail - 8.9 miles - Northeast Oakland County
The Paint Creek Trail was the first non-motorized rail-to-trail in Michigan; it was converted to a trail from the former Penn Central Railroad. Open to the public since 1983, the Paint Creek Trail receives over 100,000 visitors annually.
“It follows a fast-flowing trout stream that you’d think should really be in the Upper Peninsula. It’s beautiful. Actors and musicians who come to the area can sometimes be seen bicycling or running on the trail,” Yauk said.
Lakelands Trail State Park - 20 miles - Livingston County
Lakelands Trail State Park is part of the growing Great Lake to Lake Trail across lower Michigan. Lakelands Trail traverses southern Livingston County, passing through woods and small towns and near country farms.
“There’s also an equestrian path, which is another great way to explore Michigan’s trails,” Yauk said.
Detroit RiverWalk - 3.5 miles - Downtown Detroit
The RiverWalk offers one-of-a-kind views of Detroit’s skyline and the Detroit River. More than 3 million visitors annually walk, run, bike and just meander along the revitalized riverfront trail.
Don’t miss the short side trip along the 2-mile Dequindre Cut Greenway, which is predominantly below street level and links the Riverfront to the Eastern Market.
“One of the greatest urban trails I’ve ever been on is the Detroit RiverWalk,” Yauk said. “You’ll get great views of the RenCen, Milliken State Park, Joe Louis Arena and Cobo Hall.”
Huron-Clinton Metroparks - 55 miles - Southeast Michigan
The regional park district includes 13 metroparks covering nearly 25,000 acres encompassing Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Livingston counties. Located along the Huron and Clinton rivers, the metroparks include extensive paved hike/bike trails.
“Metro Detroit is fortunate to have great park systems like the Huron-Clinton Metroparks,” Yauk said.