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Five Best Ways to Celebrate "Michigan Trails Week" this Month

Happy #TrailsWeek, Michiganders! With more than 13,400 miles of trails to choose from, here is our short list of the five best ways to celebrate this year's "Michigan Trails Week" throughout the Detroit region. We'll see you at the trailhead!

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"An abundance of opportunities ... the beauty of meandering rivers, the majesty of forests teeming with wildlife ... a significant role in strengthening Michigan’s economy ... increasing the quality of life for all Michiganders."

Those are just a few snippets from Governor Whitmer's official gubernatorial designation of this week, September 17 - 24, as "Michigan Trails Week." Although the statement from Lansing only consists of 10 short paragraphs, the governor's writing team delivered a masterclass in succinctly describing why Michigan reigns as the "Trails State" on a national scale.

Here are a few highlights of the benefits of Michigan's trail system:

  • More than 13,400 miles of diverse and state-designated trails resulting from partnerships among state agencies, trail groups, nonprofits, businesses, and local residents.

  • Increases quality of life through promoting physically and mentally healthy activities like hiking, biking, walking, running, horseback riding, off-road vehicle use, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and paddling.

  • Supports sustainable economic development through facilitating thousands of jobs, providing alternative transportation corridors, and expanding access to year-round tourism and recreational opportunities.

The main point here is that Michigan's trails are worth celebrating. These meticulously planned and maintained routes constitute so much more than simple lines on a map. Our trails both literally and figuratively give life to our state, supporting livelihoods and habitats, inspiring creativity and community, and ultimately further connecting us to our environment.

So, how does one best celebrate our trails? Yep, you guessed it - by exploring them. To assist in that effort, here is our list of the five best ways to experience the Detroit region's trails during the 2023 Michigan Trails Week.

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When most Michiganders think of fall, they dream of crisp mornings in the woods, vibrant colors, tailgating in East Lansing or Ann Arbor, watching the Lions on Sundays, evenings by the fire, and fresh, mouth-watering donuts - typically with a side of cider. The State of Michigan, and especially Metro Detroit, is beyond blessed with an abundance of cider mills dotting our quintessential Americana countryside. Better yet, several of these cider mills are conveniently located either near - or directly alongside - our region's pristine biking trails.

Outdoor and cider enthusiasts living in the Rochester area are especially spoiled with their trail-to-mill access. The aptly named Paint Creek Cider Mill is located right just over Paint Creek from the beloved paved Paint Creek Trail, and the renown Yates Cider Mill regularly serves its recreational patrons right alongside its namesake Yates Trail. On the west side of the Detroit region, a visit to Blake's Farms in South Lyon is just a short cycle south from Island Lake State Recreation Area, while bikers can easily stop over at Parmenter's Northville Cider Mill by heading east from Maybury State Park or north from Hines Park. Nothing quite hits like a mid-ride cider and donut to refuel for the journey home.

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Across the country, recreationists tend to fall into one of two camps: wilderness explorers or urban adventurers. This line between these demographics tends to follow geography and lifestyle factors - the proximity of mountains vs. skyscrapers, freeways vs. backcountry roads, starlight vs. street light. For better or worse, most outdoor enthusiasts face the stark choice of electing which camp to fall into.

Here in the Detroit region, we are blessed to face no such dilemma. While most major cities are located hours away from their most sought-after trailheads and destinations, our wilderness trails, dense forests, and secluded campgrounds are all within a one-hour radius of downtown. Better yet, the City of Detroit proper features award-winning trails that are immediately accessible for Detroiters - and these trails are becoming increasingly interconnected thanks to the rapid development of the Joe Louis Greenway, Iron Belle Trail, and Gordie Howe International Bridge.

This Michigan Trails Week, don't forget to opt for the city and explore Detroit's dynamic urban trail network. Celebrated staples like the Dequindre Cut, Belle Isle Park, and the reigning "Best Riverwalk in America" Detroit Riverfront trail should absolutely be on your list. If you find yourself looking for a more comprehensive adventure, however, be sure to explore the recently-minted Southwest Greenway and Rouge Park's winding trail system.

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Contrary to popular to popular belief, the 2023 backpacking season in the Detroit region is far from over. Throughout Metro Detroit, the campgrounds at most state parks will remain open for reservation until the end of October. Some rustic campgrounds even remain open year-round, meaning late fall or winter overnight expeditions should absolutely hold a place in your rolodex of off-season adventures.

Michigan Trails Week has just kicked off, so now is the perfect time to make your reservations for a quick backpacking getaway for this upcoming weekend! For us at Expedition Detroit, we strongly recommend two trails: the Waterloo-Pinckey Trail and the Chief Pontiac Trail. Backpackers looking for a full weekend of adventure should opt for the WPT: a roughly 40 mile thru-hiking adventure that belongs on every local outdoor enthusiast's bucket list. On the other hand, trekkers looking for an extended day hiking trip should opt for the Chief Pontiac Trail, tackling either the shorter Highland State Recreation Area or longer Proud Lake-Kensington Metropark segment.

michigan trails week expedition detroit nature trail huron river


Foliage prediction reports state that peak fall colors won't strike the Detroit region for a few more weeks, but a quick walk in the woods will reveal Mother Nature has already started to unveil her autumnal flair. If you're looking to beat the droves of leaf-lovers that will descend upon Michigan's forested trails in early October, than this Michigan Trails Week presents the ideal opportunity to enjoy nature's magic without the crowds - especially when exploring via paddle.

While you can't go wrong paddling any of the Detroit's region's official water trails, we at Expedition Detroit typically opt for launching out on the Huron River. Why? Well, the vast amount of protected wetlands and watershed areas along the banks of the Huron means that paddlers find themselves spoiled by the natural beauty and diverse wildlife surrounding them. From the narrow inlets of Proud Lake State Recreation Area to the enormity of Kensington Metropark's Kent Lake, the raging rapids of Delhi Metropark and Argo Cascades to the leisurely flow of Oakwoods Metropark, the Huron River is best suited for every genre of paddler.

michigan trails week expedition detroit nature trail guided hike


Here at Expedition Detroit, we strongly believe that the outdoors should be accessible to everyone and anyone who has a passion for - or even the slightest curiosity about - Southeast Michigan's immaculate natural environment. We also fully understand that not everyone feels as comfortable about exploring the Detroit region's trails on their own. From lack of experience, knowledge, or other safety concerns, we recognize that enjoying Michigan Trails Week may come off as a daunting endeavor to many an aspiring outdoor enthusiast.

That's where we step in. This Michigan Trails Week, we will be leading 9 guided hiking trips across several Michigan State Parks within an hour's drive of Downtown Detroit! These hikes will occur across beloved destinations like Highland State Recreation Area, Maybury State Park, Proud Lake State Recreation Area, Belle Isle Park, and Brighton State Recreation Area. Better yet, in honor of Michigan Trails Week, hike participants can use code "TRAILSWEEK" for 20% off of your booking!


How are you planning on celebrating Michigan Trails Week? Do you have a favorite fall desitination within an hour's drive of Downtown Detroit that you would like to see featured? Let us know in the comments or reach out directly via (734) 821-6416 or!

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