You might not think of Metro Detroit as a hotspot for outdoor fun, but our beloved city and its surrounding areas are home to all sorts of natural hidden gems that will sweep you away on endless adventures. Whether you’re keen on hiking, cross-country skiing, waterfront strolling, or something in the middle, you’ll find a new favorite locale when you check out our list of underrated natural spots in Metro Detroit.
1. Nankin Mills Nature Center (33175 Ann Arbor Trail, Westland)
Make your way to Westland for an adventure among history and nature alike at this unique locale. As its name suggests, the center is home to a former grist mill that was once owned and operated by Henry Ford. Today, guests can appreciate the natural beauty and serene walking spaces that surround the mill. When you visit, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The delights here are both manmade and natural.
2. Acorn Nature Trail (8801 N Territorial Road, Dexter)
Tucked away near the town of Dexter, Acorn Nature Trail is a short but sweet strolling spot within Hudson Mills Metropark comprising a two-mile loop. Visitors of all ages and athletic abilities will appreciate the chance to unwind while gazing at forested scenery and appreciating plenty of peace and quiet. Dogs are also allowed along Acorn Nature Trail, so long as they are kept on leash.
3. Furstenberg Nature Area (2626 Fuller Road, Ann Arbor)
There are 38 miles of marvelous outdoor space to check out here, but that doesn’t keep Furstenberg Nature Area from remaining relatively unknown. In fact, many folks from Detroit might not even be aware that this gem, which features picnic areas, woodland beauty, and boardwalk walking space, sits just a stone’s throw from the heart of the city. You can reach Furstenberg by car from the Motor City in just 45 minutes.
4. Walter & Mary Burke Park (36300 Front Street, New Baltimore)
If you’ve never checked out the small town of New Baltimore, you’re missing out. One of this charming community’s loveliest attractions is Walter & Mary Burke Park, which sits along the shores of Anchor Bay. Whether you’re appreciating the waterfront during summer months or unwinding atop the greenery, there’s always something beautiful to experience here.
5. Elizabeth Park (4250 Elizabeth Drive, Trenton)
Venture to Trenton to spend the day exploring the history and natural gems that abound throughout Elizabeth Park, which sits on an artificial island and features 162 spectacular acres. From unparalleled views of the Detroit River to picturesque bridges to seemingly endless swaths of flora, you’ll never run out of fresh air adventures at this underrated destination.
6. Maheras-Gentry Park (12550 Avondale Street, Detroit)
Despite its location within the city limits of Detroit, many residents have never heard of Maheras-Gentry Park. This lovely spot sits near the Bayview Yacht Club and offers plenty of space from which to view the Detroit River in all its glory. In addition to a naturally serene atmosphere, the park offers plenty of seating and recreational opportunities for the entire family to enjoy.
7. Lincoln Woods Nature Preserve (Southfield)
This small but mighty preserve in Southfield might not be famous, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of a visit. Situated only 20 minutes from Detroit, Lincoln Woods is home to 10 acres of land, a playground area, walking trails, and wildlife. In fact, you might just spot a deer or two when you embark on a family outing here. This is the very definition of a hidden gem.
Have you spent time unwinding at any of these lesser-known parks and outdoor spaces in and around Detroit? Share your favorite family memories with us by leaving a Facebook comment or recommend another awesome natural spot near the Motor City by filling out our official nomination form
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