top of page

Tip-A-Few Trail Beers: The Ultimate Drinking Guide to Detroit's Outdoors

As a nod to St. Patrick's Day, we've rolled up our green sleeves to dig deep into how Detroit's outdoor community can responsibility - and lawfully - enjoy that crisp, well-deserved post-trail beer. Sláinte.

What do St. Patrick's Day, Game Day, Opening Day, and a "Trail Day" all have in common? They are all best experienced with at least one ice-cold beer.

That is not just our opinion; we at Expedition Detroit stand by that statement as an empirical fact, especially when it comes to the outdoors. We're only half kidding here - there's a decent amount of research supporting that a post-hike beer can actually provide certain health benefits. Scientific evidence supports that drinking a limited quantity of beer (i.e., one beer) after a hike, run, or paddle may benefit you by replenishing glycogen stores for endurance, supporting bone and connective tissue regeneration, causing a slight reduction of cardiovascular risk, and promoting neurological longevity benefits. Yeah. We're serious.

While the health benefits of beer may still be subject to debate, the interconnected synergy between the outdoor recreation and craft brewing industries - as well as their surrounding communities - is a tangible, undeniable fact. For many outdoor enthusiasts, it’s practically assumed that a day spent on the trails or slopes will conclude at a local brewpub. Don't believe us? Stop by River's Edge Brewery in Milford on a Saturday between April and November and try to count the mountain bikes or kayaks that are on full display in the parking lot.

More importantly, breweries are often on the front lines of environmental conservation and advocacy. Local and national craft beer companies consistently spearhead grassroots campaigns and benefits for natural resource protection, including Bell's annual "Go Where the Trail Leads You" fundraiser for the completion of the North Country National Scenic Trail.

Here's our point: beer is best consumed within and in defense of nature. However, as some of us may have found out the hard way, some of our state and community parks don't always permit the consumption of alcohol.

That's where this guide comes in handy: a comprehensive cheatsheet so that you can plan on where and when to crack that post-trail lid. Cheers.


Each of Michigan's pristine state parks and recreation areas vary from one another in size, natural features, and world-class recreational opportunities. Unfortunately for beer enthusiasts, our state lands in the Detroit area also vary in their alcohol rules, regulations, and policies. Here is a high-level summary for each of our region's state parks and recreation areas.


Legal to possess or consume alcohol without restrictions in the following locations:

  • Algonac State Park

  • Bald Mountain State Recreation Area

  • Highland State Recreation Area

  • Ortonville State Recreation Area

  • Waterloo State Recreation Area

  • Wetzel State Recreation Area

LIMITED LIBATIONS - April 1st through Labor Day

It is illegal to possess or consume alcohol in the following locations:

  • Brighton Recreation Area: Bishop Lake day-use area (April 1 through September 30th)

  • Holly Recreation Area: Day-use areas south of McGinnis Road.

  • Island Lake Recreation Area: Day-use areas within park, excluding rented shelters.

  • Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area: Day-use areas in park.

  • Pinckney Recreation Area: Rented shelters in the Silver Lake and Halfmoon day-use areas.

  • Proud Lake Recreation Area: Day-use area east of Wixom Road.

  • Seven Lakes State Park: Day-use areas of the park.

  • William C. Sterling State Park: Day-use areas of the park.


It is illegal to possess or consume alcohol in any of the following locations:

  • Belle Isle Park

  • Dodge #4 State Park

  • Maybury State Park

  • Pontiac Lake State Recreation Area (only for day-use areas within park)

  • William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor

*must be 21 years of age or older to possess or consume alcohol.


The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority - the governmental body that administers the Metroparks' fantastic 13 destinations - has made our job very easy by publishing rules and regulations that cover the entire Metropark system. For alcohol, only beer and wine may be consumed in picnic areas or other areas specifically designated by the Metroparks. Stated differently, the default rule for the Metroparks is that alcohol is not permitted unless (a) within a picnic area or (b) in a specifically-designated area.

For obvious reasons, the Metroparks also prohibit the possession of any alcoholic beverages in any closed-off area of the parks. So let's all collectively agree to not be that guy. Thanks.


In general, the "default rule" for consumption of alcohol within Michigan's public parks is that such recreational methods are permissible. That being said, the law providing such admissibility also includes fairly large exceptions for anti-consumption ordinances implemented by local governments or agency regulations.