April means spring, and spring means the return of prime time in Detroit's outdoors! As our trails, campgrounds, and waterways reopen for the masses, these "Top Ten Outdoor Events" will serve as your guide for navigating this month's super-bloom of recreation opportunities.
Congratulations! If you're reading this, then you've successfully survived March, the purgatory of outdoor recreation in the Detroit region. Not quite winter. Not quite spring. Just...March.
A turn of the calendar may not feel like much, but for the majority of outdoor enthusiasts in the Great Lakes, April 1st marks "Opening Day" for the great migration back to our trails. Hiking, trail running, backpacking, cycling, mountain biking, paddling, canoe camping...even hunting is back on the agenda for April. Yes, you should probably acquire some rain gear and waterproof boots. But our wild places will be fully-open for business again this month, which is absolutely worth celebrating.
In anticipation of the new world of outdoor opportunities opening up tomorrow, we sifted through the deluge of experiences to curate this list of the "Top Ten Outdoor Events" for April. We can't wait to see you all again on the trails this spring!
1. Embrace the Season at the Signs of Spring Hike
April 1st | Maybury State Park | 12 p.m.
This is NOT an April Fool's joke: spring has FINALLY arrived in the Detroit region, and there's no better way to validate that fact than hitting the trails and experiencing the change of seasons for yourself! The DNR crew at Maybury State Park has fortunately decided to kick off this month with their guided "Signs of Spring Hike" - a one mile hike around Maybury's beautiful fishing pond to search for buds, blooms, and birds. In proper spring form, the conditions will be muddy and rainy, so please dress accordingly.
2. Seize the Day - and Night - at the Carpe Diem/Noctem Trail Race
April 8th | Proud Lake State Recreation Area | 8:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
The ice has thawed. The trails are (hopefully) drying. The birds, blooms, and beauty of spring in Michigan's state parks and recreation areas are returning to full strength. Now is the PERFECT time to run Proud Lake's famous trails that you've missed all winter long.
So perfect that you should run them twice...in the same day...as your first trail race of the season.
That's the hypothesis of the "Carpe Diem - Noctem" 10K and half-marathon trail race events, and we absolutely dig it. This dual time/multiple event extravaganza offers a variety of racing options for runners looking to burn up Proud Lake's loops for both their morning and evening runs. Plus, finishers will get to add one of the most unique medals that we've ever seen to their collection. Yeah, we're sold.
3. Run Out of this World at the Martian Invasion of Races
April 15th | Dearborn, Michigan | 8:00 a.m.
Once a year, Dearborn literally becomes the center of the universe: the destination for an intergalactic coalition of Earthlings and Martians. Each jumping to hyperspeed for cosmic journeys of 5K to full marathon-length expeditions. Regardless of whether you will be embarking on that all-important "one small step" for your fitness journey, or a "giant leap" towards conquering your distance running goals, the Martian Invasion of Races has an event for every outdoor - and outer space - enthusiast.
4. Own the Night at the Pegasus Night Run or Ride
April 15th | Holly Oaks ORV Park | 6:00 p.m. (Bike) and 8:30 p.m. (Run)
Headlamps will be ablaze at Holly Oaks ORV Park on the 15th! Hosted by Kona Running Company, this unique endurance event will challenge riders and runners to a 5K loop event where competitors will be rewarded for the most laps completed on the course. The Pegasus Night Run or Ride will also feature grilled food and a post-race bonfire. Oh, and the first 150 registered participants will receive a LED sport beanie!
5. Bid Good Riddance to Winter at an Essex Region Cleanup
April 15th | Little River Watershed and Sandwich, Windsor | 10:00 a.m.
Winter provides a double-edged sword when it comes to the beautification of our favorite outdoor spaces. On one hand, the clean slate of a fresh blanket of snow provides postcard-worthy images of untainted beauty. On the other hand, there's the spring thaw: the muddy exposure of the debris that powder had conveniently hidden from our collective consciousness for a few months of bliss. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we're in the latter of those two circumstances now.
Fortunately for all outdoor enthusiasts, the Essex Region Conservation Authority has organized two official "Cleanups" to tackle any lingering debris along the waterways of southwestern Ontario. One Cleanup will occur at McKee Park in Sandwich, just south of the Ambassador Bridge. The second Cleanup will focus on a portion of the Little River corridor and Ganatchio Trail. Our outdoor spaces are best enjoyed when cared for - we hope to see you at one of these Cleanups!
6. Get in the Woods for Opening Day of Turkey Season
April 22nd | Throughout Michigan
Turkeys in April...? For non-hunters, this inclusion likely strikes you as an out-of-place callback to fall foliage, unavoidable family arguments, and the Lions' push towards a playoff berth (this season for sure). For hunters, April is primetime to get back into the woods for spring turkey season. In the Detroit region, opening day officially kicks off at 6:10 a.m. on the 22nd.
Beyond the recreational enjoyment and plentiful harvest that turkey season entails, we also wanted to highlight the immense conservation value of regulated turkey hunting - often dubbed the "Greatest Conservation Success Story." When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, only 1.3 million wild turkeys remained in the continent. Now, after 50 years of careful conservation and management, there are approximately 7 million wild turkeys throughout North America.
Science-backed conservation works, and we at Expedition Detroit are proud to support it. Especially when it's fun and fulfilling.
7. Gaze into the Cosmos at a Dark Sky Preserve
April 22nd | Point Pelee National Park | 7:30 p.m.
The days may finally be getting lighter, but the stars at Point Pelee National Park - the single best stargazing destination in the Detroit region - are still shining as bright as ever! Point Pelee's "Dark Sky Nights" are especially catered towards star-gazing tourists willing to brave near-freezing temperatures at night, with amenities including extended visitor hours, seasonal star charts, and the combined natural beauty of the park and the cosmos.
8. Celebrate the Bloom at a Spring Festival
April 22nd-23rd | Kensington Metropark | 12 p.m.
For most outdoor enthusiasts, the end of winter is worth celebrating - especially when celebrating at one of the most beloved Huron-Clinton Metoparks! Head over to Kensington Metropark's Spring Festival for a variety of family-friendly experiences, like demonstrations of spring-time farm skills, a Rosco the Clown performance, and a visit to the Kensington Living History Village where you can view blacksmithing and early pioneer skills. The event is free and all are welcome!
9. Kick Off Trail Racing Season at THE Trail Race Event
April 29th | Pinckney State Recreation Area | 8:00 a.m.
In full transparency, this may be the single event that we're most looking forward to this month for a few very subjective reasons. First, the "Road End 5-Mile" event was the first trail race that I ever completed and fundamentally changed my love, appreciation, and understanding of trail running. Second, "Trail" formally kicks off RF Events' "GOAT Trail Series," a season-long trail running series where runners collect points to compete for a prestigious "GOAT" (Greatest Of All Time) title. Our team had a ton of fun - and found some extra running motivation - while participating in the 2022 GOAT Series. We'll see you all at the official starting line of the 2023 trail season!
10. Exercise your Legs and Mind at the Detroit Pheasant Walk
April 30th | DNR Outdoor Adventure Center, Detroit, Michigan | 8:30 a.m.
Did you know that the ring-necked pheasant has been a resident species of Detroit for decades? One that is carefully managed by the Michigan DNR? The general outdoor community has a lot to learn about this very unique bird thriving within our community, and the OAC has prepared an active AND educational experience to educate enthusiasts about our pheasants.
Join OAC staff and Detroit Audubon for their "Detroit Pheasant Walk" along the riverfront and other areas around the OAC to look and listen for this beautiful Detroit grassland bird. The guided walk will include discussions on how pheasants may have arrived to the Detroit region, where they have settled, and why they have stayed. As an extra bonus, the OAC will host a showing of the award-winning documentary short "Pheasants of Detroit" at the conclusion of the walk.
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