New Year's Resolutions for Detroit's Outdoors
Happy New Year, Detroit!! Now that 2023 has arrived in full regalia, here are the Expedition Detroit Team's New Year's resolutions, covering the most ambitious, exciting, and rewarding experiences that the Detroit region offers throughout the year.
I love the moment that midnight strikes on New Year's Eve. Yes, I agree that over-hyping the start of a new calendar year easily wades into the territory of cliché, idealistic, or even setting yourself up for disappointment literally from the get-go. And yes, "New Year's Resolutions" - self-improvement goals to be accomplished over the next year - are the manifestation of lofty ambitions made by quixotic daydreamers like myself.
But here's the catch: each year, I find myself entranced by the allurement of a fresh start. Similar to an artist staring at a blank canvas, a skier ready to drop into a pristine powder run, or a paddler launching into perfectly still water. There's an inherent beauty to a new year, and if establishing a few ambitious resolutions provide the framework for routing your course through 2023, then I'll gladly adopt the "cliché" or "basic" label.
I'm far from being alone in my sentimentality towards looking forward to setting new goals for a new year. In fact, the New Year's Resolutions social trend is so widespread that there's a growing body of research regarding the science of accomplishing or failing to achieve such goals. The TL;DR summary of such research includes that successful New Year's Resolutions typically consist of the following characteristics:
Specific or well-defined (e.g., "Run a half-marathon" vs. "Exercise more");
Framed in positive, actionable terms (e.g., "Eat more broccoli" vs. "Stop eating Big Macs"); and
Focused on the goal-setter's individualists interests (vs. societal, familial, or work-place expectations).
Keeping these traits in mind, the Expedition Detroit team has curated this list of 10 specific, ambitious, actionable, and rewarding New Year's Resolutions to be accomplished over the next 12 months. Spoiler alert, each of these resolutions directly involve world-class experiences in the Detroit region's outdoors. But these aren't just any experiences - completing any of these goals could easily stand out as your "Outdoor Highlight of 2023."
Here are the top 10 outdoor New Year's resolutions that we will be striving for this year:
1. Ski or Ride the Big Four Resorts
Mt. Brighton, Alpine Valley, Mt. Holly, and Pine Knob Ski Resorts
Don't let the recent spring weather fool you - each and every new year for us in Detroit begins in January, during the dead of winter, within a northern climate. Snow will return, hopefully sooner than later, and while our backcountry skiing aspirations will be on hold for a bit, Detroit's "Big Four" ski and snowboard resorts will be back in action in no time!
In line with our recent article on the Big Four, each of these resorts have special attributes that make them well worth a visit over the next few wintry months. Alpine Valley provides a full-service mountain within a stone's throw of the Detroit region's best hiking, paddling, and mountain biking destinations. Mt. Brighton has state-of-the-art facilities and direct connections to world-class ski resorts around the country. Mt. Holly provides skiers and riders with Up North-caliber vertical terrain. And Pine Knob packs the largest adrenaline punch for our resident terrain park junkies.
Those are just the 30,000 ft. highlights; to get the full experience, take on all four mountains this season and rediscover your love for our local runs. Look for us on the chairlift.
2. Thru-Hike the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail
Waterloo and Pinckney State Recreation Areas
Last month, when I was on the ground conducting research for our "Trail Town Spotlight" article on Dexter, I struck up a conversation with a local outdoor enthusiast about Expedition Detroit. Naturally, our conversation shifted towards the most exciting and awe-inspiring outdoor experiences in our area. I tried to keep the conversation focused on Dexter, but she couldn't help spilling the beans on one very specific experience:
"Whatever you do, please don't write about the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail. It's our region's hidden gem!"
Sorry, ma'am. I told you then that I would have to write on it - multiple times - because it's simply that incredible to be kept a secret.
For the uninitiated, the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail is the Detroit region's sole, true thru-hiking trail (for the time being - ball's in your court, Iron Belle Trail). Typically backpacked from Waterloo in the southwest to Pinckney in the northeast, the trail is a 33.8 mile point-to-point hike (38.5 miles with campground diversions) that provides hikers with ample camping opportunities along the route. Hikers will gain 2,312 feet of elevation over the course of this hike, which usually takes between 2 - 4 days to complete.
Mark our words: we will write a feature on this trail in the months ahead, possibly even a glorified installation of our #TrailTuesday series launching next week. Subscribers, keep an eye on your inbox!
3. Paddle the Entirety of the Huron River National Water Trail
Proud Lake State Recreation Area to Lake Erie Metropark
Let's stay on the theme of thru-expeditions, shall we? We have already written extensively on the beauty of the Huron River - especially during peak fall colors - but the true blessing of the river is that it provides an endlessly flowing supply of recreational opportunities. Day paddles, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, biking, camping, or hunting along its banks. In spite of these incredible activities, we must give credit where credit's due and crown the most adventuresome, comprehensive, and awe-inspiring endeavor that one can pursue on the Huron:
Thru-paddling the entirety of the Huron River National Water Trail's 104-mile route.
Launching at the headwaters of Proud Lake, the official water trail route guides paddlers through several of the Detroit region's idyllic parks and quintessential trail towns along the journey to Lake Erie. Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock are the trail's official "Water Trail Towns," although the trail provides for ample exploration opportunities throughout the metroparks, state recreation areas, and other destinations that encompass its surroundings.