Detroit September 07, 2020
by Sophie Boudreau 9 Scenic Rail Trails In Metro Detroit That Are Downright Picture-Perfect
If you’re looking for a great way to get outside and stretch your legs, there’s nothing better than perusing one of Metro Detroit’s sprawling trails. After all, the Motor City and its surrounding areas are home to plenty of great spots to explore, from paths winding along rivers to forested walkways. If you want to add an extra element of history into your next hike, check out these nine local rail-trails.
1. Macomb Orchard Trail
This is one of Metro Detroit’s most popular rail-trails, so you might have checked it out in previous years - but trust us when we say that it’s always worth exploring. Built along a stretch of a once-bustling railroad, the Michigan Air Line Railway, the trail extends for 23.5 miles and offers Metro Detroiters the chance to stroll, jog, and bike through a variety of natural habitats and communities.
2. Clinton River Trail
The Clinton River Trail is an Oakland County gem comprising 16 miles and plenty of pretty scenery. If you choose to explore the trail in its entirety, you’ll meander through cities and towns like Rochester Hills, Sylvan Lake, Pontiac, and Auburn Hills - some of Metro Detroit’s most well-known areas. As you explore this railway-turned-trail, you’ll feel like you’ve found the perfect place to stretch your legs.
3. Litchfield Nature Trail
If you’re looking for a slightly shorter rail-trail adventure, head to Litchfield Nature Trail and appreciate its serene, peaceful atmosphere. This 3.4-mile out and back pathway is home to vibrant flora and fauna throughout the year and offers views of the St. Joseph River, along with a handful of inland ponds. Does it get much lovelier than this?
4. The Dequindre Cut
For those who prefer to enjoy their outdoor adventures within the city limits of Detroit, the Dequindre Cut is an obvious choice. This two-mile pathway, which sits along a section of the former Grand Trunk Western Railroad line, is paved and features all sorts of green space along the way. You’ll enjoy views of the Detroit River and all sorts of public art displays as you walk, bike, or rollerblade through.
5. Kiwanis Trail
You’ll have to venture to Adrian to enjoy this trail, but the experience you’ll have here is worth an extra few minutes in the car. After all, the Kiwanis Trail extends for just over 12 miles and proves perfect for beginners or younger visitors, as its terrain is straight and flat throughout. No matter what the weather is like outside, you’ll enjoy plenty of fresh air with the entire family.
6. Baw Beese Trail
Stretching for approximately eight miles, the Baw Beese Trail occasionally runs alongside a railroad line and features views of the city of Hillsdale. With several access points, including Owen Memorial Park and Sandy Beach Park, the trail is easy to locate and decidedly family-friendly, as its largely asphalt terrain is smooth and perfect for those who prefer to avoid more rustic hiking options.
7. Bridge to Bay Trail
This magnificent trail currently extends for 37.5 miles, though it’s expected to exceed 50 miles following its completion. The trail stretches between the community of Lake Port on beautiful Lake Huron and Algonac on the St. Clair River, offering breathtaking views and a variety of terrain options along the way. Many portions of the trail are classified as rail trails, while others feature boardwalks and smaller pathways. As you hike or bike, you’ll spot everything from wetlands to freighters atop the river.
8. Huron Valley Trail
Following the path of the former Grand Trunk Railway, the Huron Valley Trail is a genuine Metro Detroit gem. As it brings explorers through communities like South Lyon and Wixom City, the trail gives way to plenty of natural splendor. Be sure to stop for a picnic lunch or a short rest at Lyon Oaks County Park, which serves as a perfect stopping point during your rail trail outing.
9. Paint Creek Trail
This crushed limestone trail is 8.9 miles long and offers a path running linear to the Michigan Central and Penn Central Railroad lines. Motor vehicles are prohibited along the trail, so you can rest assured that you’ll enjoy plenty of peace and quiet as you make your way through. If you choose to explore the trail in its entirety, you’ll find opportunities for everything from birdwatching to wildflower-spotting along the way.
Are there any other rail-trails in the Metro Detroit area that we should be aware of for future pieces? We would love to hear from you, so drop us a line in the comments section below or recommend another great hiking spot by filling out our official nomination form
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Address: Macomb Orchard Trail, Shelby Charter Twp, MI, USA Address: Huron Valley Trail, Lyon Charter Twp, MI, USA Address: Dequindre Cut Greenway, Detroit, MI 48207, USA Address: Thomas Edison Pkwy, Port Huron, MI 48060, USA Address: Paint Creek Trail, Rochester Hills, MI 48307, USA Address: Kiwanis Trail, Tecumseh, MI, USA Address: Baw Beese Trail, Hillsdale, MI 49242, USA Address: Clinton River Trail, Pontiac, MI, USA Address: Litchfield Nature Trail, Litchfield, MI 49252, USA