Top Bike Trails in Southeast Michigan
These paths provide a natural cure for boredom and perfect opportunity to get your family on the fast track to a healthier lifestyle. Get the details for 2014-15.
The bike craze has taken off across America like a rocket – and southeast Michigan is no exception! Now more than ever, it is less of a trend and more of a habit to incorporate this "green" way of transportation into everyday life, whether it's to work (if you're lucky!) or just some family fun around the neighborhood.
Get your family pedaling at some of these hotspots to bike throughout metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. To compile this list, Metro Parent chatted with experts at Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance to find some popular routes and off-the-beaten-path options. We also included Huron-Clinton Metroparks and a few other popular family areas in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties (and you can find a few more ideas over at the TrailLink Rails-to-Trails Conservancy).
So grab your handlebars and hold on tight for a summer of scenic fun and exploration!
This route spans 35 miles in Washtenaw County along the edge of the Huron River. Currently, 10-plus miles of paved shared-use paths exist, with much more to come! Along the way, you'll find recreation and river access, including Gallup Park in Ann Arbor and the Ford Lake Overlook in Ypsilanti Township.
The West Bloomfield Trail and Macomb Orchard Trail are connected by the Clinton River Trail. These 16 miles of partly-paved and limestone path run east to west through central Oakland County, along a former rail line (it spans Sylvan Lake, Pontiac, Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills and Rochester). It will eventually be a part of the larger Great Lake-to-Lake Trail, to span South Haven to Port Huron.
More than 16 miles of new bike lanes link Corktown and Southwest Detroit (Mexicantown) in the city of the Detroit. This route is part of 400-plus miles of lanes in the city. The Southwest Detroit lanes connect to Patton Park. This network also ties in with the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route Detroit Alternate, which goes through Detroit, around Lake St. Clair and elsewhere, with many historic sites along the way (for more serious bikers).
The Detroit RiverFront is the pristine place for a family ride. Rent or buy a bike – and sign up for a tour – at Wheelhouse Detroit, located conveniently on the RiverWalk. The Dequindre Cut is a 1.35-mile shortcut fit for walking, jogging and biking. It runs parallel to St. Aubin Street and boasts a 20-foot-wide pathway with lanes for bikes and pedestrians. Hop on the Cut at Lafayette Street, Gratiot Avenue and Woodbridge Street. For more fun, refresh at the RiverWalk Cafe, Detroit RiverFront Playpark, Cullen Family Carousel and Mt. Elliott area splash feature.
These trail segments connect places like Lake Erie Metropark, cities like Detroit and Dearborn, and other areas in Wayne, Oakland and Monroe counties. This idea is to link local communities with environmentally and budget-friendly lanes and bikeways. It'll ultimately connect 250 miles of trail, including over 26 downriver cities and townships.
Take in the scenery of wetlands and wildlife as you bike the two-mile Acorn Nature Trail. Feeling more adventurous? Try the paved, 10-foot wide, 5.3-mile hike/bike trail, offering a great view of the Huron River and natural woodlands. Located in Dexter 12 miles northwest of Ann Arbor. Requires a $7/vehicle day pass or $30/annual (allows access to all other 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks, too).
This vast network connects you to 25 miles of other trails, including Kensington Metropark in Milford, the James F. Atchison Memorial Park in Lyon Township and Lyon Oaks County Park in Wixom. It is completely paved with different areas offering beginner and more challenging paths.
Open since the 1970s, this trail covers 26 miles and has received considerable TLC over the years. There are a variety of entry points; the path is paved and indeed skirts the expressway (it's set aside by a concrete wall and buffer). Eye on Michigan notes that most improvements are north of I-94; use caution on this stretch too, though, because it also crosses high-traffic main roads.
While biking eight miles of paved trail, you can catch a glimpse of the beautiful Huron River and its surrounding natural wooded wetlands and grassy meadows. There's even a "challenging hill" for those who want to test their endurance a bit! Located nine miles northwest of Pontiac in White Lake, this spot is known for a diverse range of wildlife, too, from coyote to red fox. Requires a $7/vehicle day pass or $30/annual (allows access to all other 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks, too).
This popular Milford park is home to an array of wildlife and hilly terrain. Take a trip along its eight-and-a-half-mile path that features gentle hills, "a few challenging inclines" and plenty of great views of the wooded land surrounding Kent Lake. It's open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Requires a $7/vehicle day pass or $30/annual (allows access to all other 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks, too).
Not far from Mount Clemens, take a chill ride on a three-mile paved hike-bike route with views of beautiful Lake St. Clair (be sure to stop at the gazebo to check out Huron Point). At the entrance, the path even links to a trail tracing Metro Parkway (the main road leading into the park), so if you live nearby, there's a chance you can bike home! Requires a $7/vehicle day pass or $30/annual (allows access to all other 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks, too).
Before or after biking this 10-mile trail in Novi, hit the beach and park, too, to play with the family. Parking is available, and intermediate to challenging bike paths are available. Visit the trailhead at 601 S. Lake Drive for any questions. Parking for the beach is $5/nonresidents. Park hours are 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; beach is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. in summer (from day school lets out till Labor Day).
A four-mile paved bike/hike trail offers scenic views of the Huron River and some of the 1,258 acres of natural woodlands at this Belleville park. Got older kids with some real steam to burn off? Continue the route through Willow and Oakwoods Metroparks for a total 30-mile round trip! Requires a $7/vehicle day pass or $30/annual (allows access to all other 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks, too).
Canton residents, this one's for you! On a combination of dirt and paved routes, visitors enjoy smooth leisure riding – or, if you prefer, mountain biking on tougher terrain. This trail runs from Canton Center Road to Haggerty Road and connects Heritage Park and the I-275 Metro Trail.
Take in plenty of urban and wooded beauty on this path that connects Romeo and Armada on paved, generally flat terrain. It crosses the Clinton River and offers a 180-mile stretch of trails.
Set in Northville Township, this park offers both leisurely biking (there's a four-mile paved trail) and mountain biking (there's a special spot for this called the Yellow Trail; closed Dec. 15-April 15). You can also fish, horseback ride, hike and lots more here. Michigan Recreation Passport required, which is $11/year.
Featuring a cool "waterfall" view (created by a dam), this five-mile trail is rated moderate for those with experience and biking skills. Family ready for a little mount-bike challenge? Try to make it from its beginning on Commerce Road all the way to the end at the Kensington Metropark entrance.
Bikers love this New Boston three-mile trail for its easy ride, thanks to a flat terrain and grassy meadows. The interpretive trails are also appealing with scenic views of the Huron River. This 1,756-acre park near Flat Rock continues on, connecting with 12 more miles of paved hike/bike trails in Willow and Lower Huron metroparks (it all adds up to 30 miles of biking round trip!). Requires a $7/vehicle day pass or $30/annual (allows access to all other 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks, too).
This is a prime spot for those in northeast Oakland County. With eight parking locations along its 8.9-mile span, this trail connecting Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Orion Township and the Village of Lake Orion draws more than 100,000 visitors each year. Features three bike stops. Check website for latest trail conditions (a bridge on the Orion Road stretch was under construction and due to be replaced by August 2014).
Polly Ann connects three townships – Orion, Oxford and Addison – and a pair of villages (Oxford and Leonard). It all creates a 14.2-mile route through Oakland County. Touches on a variety of recreational and public places. It's open dawn to dusk all year. Hint: The Blanka Trailhead in Leonard is the best place to park, complete with rest rooms.
Crossing an array of ponds, roads and boat launches, this trail has stops for bikers, too. With scenic views of historic buildings and forestry, it also features seven river miles of adventure stretching across cities like Holly and Fenton. Future developments will result in extended trips through other areas of Genesee County, the popular cities of Owosso, Saginaw Bay and many others.
With a tad more than six miles of paved trail and 14 miles of hilly, "heavily wooded" dirt terrain prime for mountain bikers, this popular Shelby Township-area park offers something for every biker. Helmets are a must, and you can even rent bikes here ($10/deposit, $5/men or women's single-speed bike per hour, $20/max deposit per family – Memorial Day-Labor Day only). Requires a $7/vehicle day pass or $30/annual (allows access to all other 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks, too).
This 54-acre park runs through the West Bloomfield area for nearly seven miles, including Orchard Lake and Keego Harbor. With trailheads extending from Sylvan Manor Park to Haggerty Road, enjoy a scenic route with benches, bike racks, mileage markers and areas to stop for a picnic lunch. Open 8 a.m.-dusk.
A winding 4.5-mile paved bike path is just the workout for many locals. Located in New Boston near I-275 and I-94, this flat course makes for easing passing through woodlands, Washago pond and views of the Huron River. Bike rentals are available for single-speed and tandem bikes, ranging $5-$6 an hour with a $10 deposit. Requires a $7/vehicle day pass or $30/annual (allows access to all other 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks, too).