Everyone knows that the Great Lakes State is fantastically gorgeous, and many of our parks are household names throughout the Midwest. And while the city of Detroit itself might not immediately be associated with nature, there are plenty of delightful outdoor areas that are just a short drive from the Motor City. Here are nine underrated state parks in and around Detroit that you’ll undoubtedly want to visit.
1. Milliken State Park and Harbor
This beautiful waterfront park is located directly on the Detroit River and proudly boasts the title of Michigan’s only urban state park. With 31 acres of land to explore, there’s truly something at Milliken for everyone. Marvel at pretty views of the city skyline, walk along the marina, or simply enjoy a picnic lunch with loved ones.
2. Maybury State Park
Located approximately 45 minutes from Detroit by car, Maybury State Park is a real hidden gem in the region. Forest, meadowlands, and all sorts of flora and fauna add unmatched natural beauty to this 944-acre park in Northville Township. Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders alike will be completely enamored with Maybury.
3. Dodge #4 State Park
Venture to Waterford Township and spend a few hours at Dodge #4 State Park, which packs all sorts of fun into its 139 acres of land. Conveniently tucked away along Cass Lake, the park offers water activities, plenty of open space, and a calm atmosphere to help you unwind after a long workweek.
4. Kensington Metropark
While not quite a state park, Kensington Metropark certainly deserves a spot on your list of must-see parks in the Detroit area. This sprawling area is comprised of over 4,500 acres — including a massive, stunning lake just waiting to be explored. Hundreds of nature enthusiasts enjoy hiking, bicycling, and holding events at Kensington each year, and you’ll want to see for yourself.
5. Seven Lakes State Park
Make the hour-long trek from Detroit to Holly for all kinds of outdoor excitement at Seven Lakes State Park, where you’ll discover a unique combination of forest and rolling hills. Grab your kayak and hit the water or simply lounge under a tree with a good book — it’s nearly impossible to have a bad time here.
6. Sanilac Petroglyphs State Park
Visiting this amazing state park will cost you a two-hour drive from Detroit, but the experience that awaits is absolutely priceless. As its name suggests, this state park contains historic rock carvings thought to have been created by the region’s earliest Native Americans. Step back in time as you observe these fascinating designs, which never seem to lose their incredible charm.
7. Bald Mountain State Recreation Area
Make the 45-minute drive from Detroit to check out this lovely park, which sits on approximately 4,600 acres of beautiful land. Fish for trout, hike along sloped land, or spend the night camping in one of Bald Mountain’s rustic yet charming cabins. Nature lovers will truly be in paradise.
8. Lakelands Trail State Park
As its name suggests, Lakelands Trail State Park is centered around an amazing multi-use trail, which was converted from a now-defunct railroad line. You’ll find opportunities for everything from bicycling to horseback riding, and the scenery alone will make your trip well worth the jaunt.
9. Sterling State Park
As the only state park located along the shores of Lake Erie, Sterling is truly special. In addition to its stunning beaches and shoreline, the park also offers plenty of scenic campsites, opportunities for fishing, and a relaxed ambiance that will make you want to stick around forever.
Did we leave any of your favorite natural areas off this list? What should we check out during our next outdoor excursion in the Detroit area? Let us know in the comment section below.