Best Places to Go Hiking in Southeast Michigan

Need a change of pace? These local trails offer hiking, biking and beautiful scenery in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Updated for 2014-15.

Best Places to Go Hiking in Southeast Michigan

For many families, spending a day in the great outdoors can be not only a great learning experience, but a great bonding experience as well. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the best hiking trails in southeast Michigan where you and your family can enjoy beautiful outdoor scenery, learn about nature and wildlife, and spend some quality time together in the process.

Addison Oaks Park (County)

  • Address: 1480 W. Romeo Road, Leonard (32 Mile Road; nine miles north of Rochester)
  • Phone: 248-693-2432
  • Hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. year-round, closed Christmas Day; during off-season park is open 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset
  • Admission: daily vehicle pass: $5/Oakland County residents, $10/nonresidents; $4/military and seniors (ages 62-plus)

Six different trails offering over 15 miles of hiking and biking are available here at the northeast tip of Oakland County. The main Buhl Lake Loop drag is paved for hikes, bikes and rollerblades (note: does have some long-hill elevation changes, so be mindful for little legs). The other five packed-dirt trails include 6.8 miles for mountain bikes only and a couple equestrian paths. Depending on the season, you’ll also find swimming, camping, pedal boat rentals, disc golf and more.

Crosswinds Marsh Park (County)

  • Address: 27600 Haggerty Road, New Boston
  • Phone: 734-654-1223
  • Hours: dawn-dusk daily
  • Admission: free

Did you know one of the largest manmade marshes in the country is located right in Wayne County? Fortunately, it’s easy to tromp right over the ponds and streams – thanks to 1.4 miles of boardwalk. Eight total short trails also take you around these unique 1,050 acres, where you’ll see a blend of wetlands, wildflower meadows and upland forests that attract over 240 species of birds and 40 species of mammals, plus reptiles, amphibians and fish. You can also travel five miles of equestrian trail that circle the park. While you’re here, why not fish and canoe, too?

Dexter-Huron Metropark

  • Address: 6535 Huron River Drive, Dexter
  • Phone: 734-426-8211
  • Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily Memorial Day-Labor Day; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily Labor Day-Memorial Day
  • Admission: $7/daily vehicle entry permit; free to trail-users if you enter through park roads and hike/bike trails

There are many beautiful sights and sounds to enjoy at this 122-acre, heavily wooded site. Take the family fishing in the gently flowing waters of the Huron River, take a ride along the park’s picturesque hiking and biking trails, and enjoy the park’s vibrant flower blossoms throughout spring and summer, including purple cresses, trout lilies and many more.

Holliday Forest & Wildlife Preserve (County)

  • Address: 33175 Ann Arbor Trail, Westland; also entry points at Central City Parkway between Nankin Boulevard and Warren Avenue (Westland) and the south side of Koppernick Road west of Hix Road (Canton)
  • Phone: 734-261-1990
  • Hours: dawn-dusk daily
  • Admission: free

Adventurous family? Strap on your hiking boots to explore the unique nature along this rugged 10-mile trail network in a 500-plus acre preserve. Three areas are open, each with couple-mile loops. The east end’s Ellsworth entrance, near Nankin Mills Recreation Center in Westland, is choice for a fall or winter hike (it’s the site of the Tonquish Creek floodplain, so it’s a bit soggy in summer – though if you brave it, you can find wild blueberries here). The Cowan section, also in Westland, has lovely spring wildflowers. And the Koppernick area in Canton sprouts beech trees, ferns and tulip trees. No strollers or bikes allowed here – though there’s paved space for that on the 17 paved miles of the Hines Drive trail.

Hudson Mills Metropark

  • Address: 8801 N. Territorial Road, Dexter
  • Phone: 734-426-8211
  • Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily April-October, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. daily November-March
  • Admission: $7/daily vehicle entry permit, free to trail-users if you enter through park roads and hike/bike trails

Enjoy a day of outdoor fun at this 1,549-acre park filled with dense woodland, serene wetlands and unique wildlife. Trek the paved, 5.3 mile hike-bike trail within the park, or try the two-mile Acorn Nature Trail to enjoy some peace and quiet with your family. The flowing rapids of the Huron River also make this park a popular canoe and kayak destination; and with a children’s play area, basketball courts, soccer fields, cross-country ski trails and tennis and shuffleboard courts, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy year-round.

Independence Oaks Park (County)

  • Address: 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston
  • Phone: 248-625-0877
  • Hours: 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset year-round (closed Christmas Day)
  • Admission: daily vehicle pass: $5/Oakland County residents, $10/nonresidents

There are 150-plus species of birds to spot along the 12 miles of trails here, the Michigan DNR notes, with bluebirds and swallows a highlight from March to August. At 2.5 miles, the paved Hawks’ View Trail takes you through forest and field, where you may see one of the raptors soar overhead – and delivers you to the Wint Nature Center, always offering fun nature lessons, hands-on activities and programs. Though most miles aren’t paved, park staff notes, they’re well traveled, making many routes bike- and stroller-friendly (one goes all the way around Crooked Lake, and some offer nice big hills for a bit of family exercise). In winter, groomed trails are open for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing (ski rentals are available).

Indian Springs Metropark

  • Address: 5200 Indian Trail, White Lake
  • Phone: 248-625-6640
  • Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily April 2-Oct. 31, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Nov. 1-April 1
  • Admission: $7/daily vehicle entry permit, free to trail-users if you enter through park roads and hike/bike trails

Wander six miles of nature trails through wooded swamplands, rolling meadows and wetlands while enjoying the wide array of wildlife taking sanctuary within the park’s borders. Every season provides a different experience, from spring’s chorus of frogs and summer’s symphony of crickets to fall’s burst of auburn colors and winter’s animal-tracked blanket of snow. Stop by the park’s Environmental Discovery Center, too, to learn more about the area’s native ecosystems, or take the tykes on the 0.3-mile Pondside Trail and enjoy a picnic by the pond.

Kensington Metropark

  • Address: 4570 Huron River Parkway, Milford
  • Phone: 810-227-8910
  • Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
  • Admission: $7/daily vehicle entry permit, free to trail-users if you enter through park roads and hike/bike trails

Wildlife variety rules these 16 miles, from songbirds and sandhill cranes to ducks, waterfowl and great blue herons that nest in spring – even chickadees that land on your hand to eat. Kensington’s 4,481 acres of wooded, hilly terrain surround Kent Lake, providing opportunities for both hiking and swimming. The park’s nature and farm centers also offer fun side treks (check ahead for hours). Walkers, bicyclists and inline skaters are welcome on the eight-mile paved trail that circles the lake. Hikers only (no pets) are allowed on more than seven miles of foot trails in the nature study area, which also has a paved, one-mile extension that connects to the Milford, Island Lake and West Oakland trails.

Lake Erie Metropark

  • Address: 32481 W. Jefferson Ave., Brownstown
  • Phone: 734-379-5020
  • Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
  • Admission: $7/daily vehicle entry permit, free to trail-users if you enter through park roads and hike/bike trails

Follow the path of lake freighters moving up and down along the Detroit River on the 1.25-mile Cherry Island Marsh Trail and take in amazing views of the riverfront, Lake Erie, Sugar Island, Grosse Ile and Celeron Island. Or try the park’s 0.5-mile Big Turtle Shortcut trail and one-mile Trapper’s Run trail to explore dense hawthorn thicket and the manmade features of the park’s lowland landscape. No matter what trail you take, be sure to scan the sky for birds, as this popular bird-watching site is home to more than 300 species.

Lake St. Clair Metropark

  • Address: 31300 Metro Parkway, Harrison Township
  • Phone: 586-463-4581
  • Hours: 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily November-March, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. weekdays and 6 a.m.-11 p.m. weekends April-October
  • Admission: $7/daily vehicle entry permit, free to trail-users if you enter through park roads and hike/bike trails

At this popular outdoor destination, you can enjoy beautiful views of Lake St. Clair from the one-mile boardwalk trail or to choose one of the park’s nature trails to hike through meadows, marshland and sprawling groves of cottonwood trees. The wetlands and lake shoreline also make a great bird-watching site, with more than 230 commonly seen species. Take the park’s quarter mile Main Trail to see warblers in spring and fall or nesting swans and geese in the spring and summer.

Macomb Orchard Trail

  • Address: Starts just south of 24 Mile Road on Dequindre Road (west side) in Shelby Township; goes through Washington Township, Romeo, Armada and ends in Richmond Township (Division and Main streets) (get trail directions on TrailLink.com)
  • Phone: 586-493-5737 (Macomb County Planning & Economic Department)
  • Hours: dawn-dusk daily
  • Admission: free

Some 23.5 miles of abandoned railroad are now a premier east-to-west nature stroll in Macomb County – all paved! To trek the full route, enter at the Shelby or Richmond entrances (there’s parking near both). Families love the Washington Township entry: Grab a snack with the kids at the park and pavilion at the trailhead (on West Road about a quarter mile west of Van Dyke Avenue), then head a couple miles in either direction. In Armada, a 40-foot bridge over the Clinton River gives an amazing view, including dairy cows at pasture. And from 24 to 29 Mile roads, find a few benches for resting.

Oakwoods Metropark

  • Address: 32911 Willow Road, New Boston
  • Phone: 734-782-3956
  • Hours: 8 a.m.-dusk daily
  • Admission: $7/daily vehicle entry permit, free to trail-users if you enter through park roads and hike/bike trails

Beautiful trails, the picturesque Huron River, scenic woods and a nature center are just a few of the highlights of this 1,756-mile Metropark, located near Flat Rock. Along six total trails, spot an ancient sandbar, garden and three-acre pond. There’s also a paved 15-mile hike-bike path nearby connecting Oakwoods, Willow and Lower Huron Metroparks (also both in Belleville), plus an equestrian path and backwater trails for canoeists. Walkers, bicyclists and inline skaters are welcome on the paved trail; walkers only in the nature area.

Park Lyndon (County)

  • Address: North Territorial Road, one mile east of M-52 (between Embury Road and M-52), Lyndon Township
  • Phone: 734-971-6337
  • Hours: dawn-dusk daily
  • Admission: free

This hilly natural gem is truly one for the hikers – no bikes allowed! Tucked up in the northwest pocket of Washtenaw County, this park contains more than 500 species of plants within a wide variety of habitats, from marshes, bogs and ponds to forest and prairie lands. The park, which is divided by North Territorial Road, offers plenty of knockout geological features on these two miles, like a 100-foot elevation change (left behind where a big glacier melted); the Waterloo Pinckney Trail also passes through here (it connects to another 50 miles). Watch for cool finds like the pileated woodpecker and white lady slipper orchid. Note: For ages 9 and older; terrain too steep for young kids.

Rolling Hills Park (County)

  • Address: 7660 Stony Creek Road, Ypsilanti Township
  • Phone: 734-484-9676
  • Hours: 8 a.m.-dusk Labor Day-Memorial Day, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Memorial Day-Labor Day
  • Admission: daily vehicle pass: $5/Washtenaw County residents, $9/nonresidents

An awesome pick for younger and special needs kids, the Hills’ has a trail network that is totally handicap accessible, from path design to fishing pond docks and restrooms. The Woodland Trail, just a quarter-mile long, is also a great place for kids to view wildlife in their natural habitat, though this nature trail is for walking only. A nice 1.5-mile loop is even dog friendly (with leashes). For the more adventurous, try out the three miles of mountain bike trails. And, depending on the season, check out disc golf, winter rentals (tubes, toboggans and skis) and the awesome water park.

Stony Creek Metropark

  • Address: 4300 Main Park Road, Shelby Township
  • Phone: 586-781-4242
  • Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. April-October, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. November-March
  • Admission: $7/daily vehicle entry permit, free to trail-users if you enter through park roads and hike/bike trails

The fun here revolves around Stony Creek Lake – literally! The eight-mile paved hike-bike trail circles the water for a scenic stroll. Or “rough it” on the six miles of natural paths that wind through lush woods, fields, woodland edges and small wetlands (between the two, you’ll likely see a flock of turkeys). In winter, you can stroll, cross-country ski or snowshoe across marked trails. This big 4,461-acre park, spanning both Macomb and Oakland counties, also has loads of outdoor sports like disc golf, plus a nature center. After your hike, take the kids to the fun and colorful playscape at Eastwood beach, located near the park’s entrance.

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