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Top Ten Outdoor Events near Detroit throughout January 2023

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Just like waking up to fresh snowfall, January provides a perfectly clean slate for pursuing your wildest outdoor goals for 2023. We're absolutely STOKED for all that this new year will bring for Detroit's outdoors, starting with these top 10 outdoor events for January.

There's something beautiful about waking up on the morning of January 1st. The past year's successes and failures are logged into the annals of history. Everyone is provided with a perfectly clean slate - a blank canvas of a calendar year, ready for you to illustrate a portrait of adventures yet to be experienced.

Even though January still falls squarely within Detroit's "off-season" for outdoor recreation, we strongly advise that you build on any momentum that you gained during the tail-end of 2022 and keep getting outside. In fact, we've argued repeatedly that now is the single best season for recreating in our natural environment. The colder, darker days act as an antithesis to crowds, fair-weather adventurers, and other human elements that detract from an outdoor experience.

In other words, if you're training for spring races, looking for natural solitude, or simply hate sharing the trail with the masses, then January is your time to shine. These top 10 events are intended for recreationists wired just like you, and we can't wait to see you at one, two, or all of these events!

1. Kick Off the New Year with a First Day Hike

January 1st | Maybury State Park | 10 a.m.

If you're reading this article, then I'm willing to bet that one of your New Year's Resolutions involves getting outside more. Well, why not kick off the year on the right foot with a morning hike at one of the Detroit region's most accessible state parks? The Friends of Maybury State Park are hosting a family-friendly "First Day Hike" on New Year's Day, setting off from the main Trailhead Building off of the park's 8 Mile entrance. The guided hike will set off at 10 a.m., but you are also welcome to hike the trails on your own throughout the day (you may just see us on the trails late morning/pre-Lions game). All pets must be on a six-foot leash at all times, and light refreshments will be available after the guided hike. No preregistration is required for this event.

2. Complement your Adventures with a Virtual Challenge

Throughout January | Anywhere

A "Virtual Challenge" - we apologize in advance if that phrase triggers pandemic lockdown-era PTSD. We 1,000% agree that the return of in-person, live events were a welcomed sign of the end of COVID's reign of tyranny over our recreational livelihoods. However, one pandemic relic that we hope does not vanish entirely from the outdoor economy is virtual challenges that can - and should - inspire and complement your training schedules, races, and generally outdoor expeditions.

There are near infinite virtual challenges that you could join, but we'd like to highlight the challenges sponsored by 52 Hike Challenge and the monthly running challenges sponsored by our friends at RF Events. The "52 Hike Challenge" comprises of an annual goal for participants to complete an average of one, 1-mile hike per week. There are also other, short "Series" that 52 Hikes sponsors, including a special "Winter Series," as well as series involving hikes with pets, kids, and a special "Adventure Series" that we're particularly interested in. RF Events' monthly challenges feature specific, running-focused goals over a given calendar month, with January's "Winter Wonderland Adventure" challenge 1,000+ minutes of activity - the number of minutes it would take to get from adventure to adventure from Detroit to Ironwood in the western U.P.

3. Capitalize on Extended Archery Season

Throughout January | Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties in Michigan

If you're still looking for your first deer of the season, let me start by offering my condolences - I've been in this position before, and it sucks. Plain and simple. But, let me offer some relief to your season-long frustration: especially if you live and hunt in Macomb, Oakland, or Wayne counties, there is an extended archery season in place through January 31st. A deer license, deer combo license, or antler-less deer license are valid during this extended season.

Similar to last month's advisory, if you have an unfilled antler-less tag, please consider harvesting a doe and donating the venison to a local food bank. Conservation in action goes much farther than any decision made in the field - we thank you in advance for assisting both the DNR in whitetail population maintenance and our neighbors in need of a hearty meal.

4. Take on the Abominable Snowman Ride

January 7th | Pinckney State Recreation Area | 12 p.m.

Forget the deniers: the Abominable Snowman exists, and it rips on a mountain bike. Don't just take our word for it, though - the Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association is hosting its annual Abominable Snowman Ride at the Glenbrook Yurt in Pinckney State Recreation Area. Riders are welcome to join in on as much or little of the scheduled 5 hour ride as they would like, and a post-ride bonfire is on the agenda!

5. Earn your "New Year Good Karma" at a DNR Volunteer Workday

Throughout January | Island Lake, Highland, and Bald Mountain State Recreation Areas and Belle Isle State Park | 9 a.m.

Another common New Year's Resolution includes doing more to make this world a better place. Volunteering your time, donating your money, or contributing to charity in a variety of other ways. If this reflects one of your goals - especially if you want your efforts to directly benefit the Detroit region's outdoors - then we applaud you and have a perfect volunteer opportunity for you.

Fortunately for all of us, the DNR has taken the lead in sponsoring four official "Volunteer Stewardship Workday" events across the Detroit region at Island Lake State Recreation Area (January 7th), Bald Mountain State Recreation Area (January 14th), Belle Isle State Park (January 21st), and Highland State Recreation Area (January 28th). Work crew activities will focus on piling brush, stacking firewood, cutting invasive shrubs, and restoring wetlands. Rainboots or other waterproof boots are recommended for these events, and preregistration is required.

6. Defrost your Cross-Country Skis for Frosty Fest! 2023

January 14th | Huron Meadows Metropark | 10 a.m.

Full-disclosure, the Expedition Detroit team has had "cross-country skiing" on our recreational activity wishlist for some time now. In other words, we're complete rookies at this sport - despite decades of downhill skiing experience. We've been looking for an opportunity to dive head first into this sport, and this year's iteration of Frosty Fest! represents an ideal chance to start getting into the action!

Located at Huron Meadows Metropark, Frosty Fest! will include a man-made snow course of multiple 2.4km loops. If natural snow permits, then the races will take place on the normal cross-country ski trails. The race offerings include 5K (MI Cup Junior points) and 15K (MI Cup Senior points) distances.

Quick note on Huron Meadows Metropark: the metropark has been dubbed the "Southeast Michigan destination for skate-style and classic cross-country ski trails." Skiers can choose from 14.8 miles of trails for classic skiing or 9 miles of skate skiing. All trails are groomed daily and are lighted at night. The metropark's "Ski Center" (Golf Starter Building) features classic-style and skate-style ski rentals and a heated lounge, restrooms, and snacks. Groups of 10 or more can make arrangements to rent skis during the week.

7. Find Fresh Tracks on the Winter Wildlife Hike

January 14th | Lake St. Clair Metropark | 10 a.m.

Contrary to popular belief, not all species of wildlife either migrate or hibernate during Detroit's colder months. In fact, the rangers at Lake St. Clair Metropark have nearly-perfected the art of tracking down our region's wintry wildlife during these colder, darker days of the year. The metropark is hosting a guided Winter Wildlife Hike through the park's beautiful nature trails in search of the park's wildlife, adaptive seasonal behaviors, and other interesting attributes regarding each animal's ability to survive Michigan's harsh winters. Warm up afterwards in the Nature Center by a roaring fire. The hike will take participants through approximately .75 mile of trail on even terrain with possible snow coverage.

8. Embrace the Elements in an Ode to Snow Ultra Race

January 15th | Holly State Recreation Area | 9:20 a.m.

Let's call a spade a spade: winter trail running in Michigan is not for the faint of heart. The cold temps, unpredictable conditions, and fleeting daylight has a cumulative effect of weeding out any recreationists that prefer their trails, clean, dry, and warm. The Detroit region's winter trails are the playground of our most passionate, badass, "no pain no gain" genre of runners.

If you fit in that camp, then oh boy - do we have the event for you.

Crazy trail runners, meet "Ode in the Snow": an up to 8 hour "backyard style" ultra trail race along the (in)famous Ode to Laz Trail Loop in Holly State Recreation Area. The trail constitutes a 4.167 mile trail loop that has approximately 450 feet of climbing, is 2/3 technical single track, 1/3 moderate walking/hiking path, and a few hundred yards of pavement. For the event, runners are free to pick their favorite distance or run as much as they'd like, starting at 9:20 a.m. Runners looking for shorter distances should join Wave 2 at 2:20 p.m.

Expedition Detroit lantern cross country ski winter snow trails
Photo courtesy of the State of Michigan

9. Cross-Country Ski Under Candlelight

January 21st | Metamora-Hadley State Recreation Area | 5:30 p.m.

As we said - we're really excited about getting into cross-country skiing this season, and this illuminated trail event hosted by the DNR at Metamora-Hadley State Recreation Area provides the perfect opportunity for skiers of all abilities to hit the trail. Skiers will traverse a well-groomed trail through the park illuminated by candles at night. The event also includes a post-ski warm up by a roaring fire with refreshments. Snow shoes are also welcome to walk along side the groomed ski track as well. If there is a lack of snow, this will be a walking event. Note that cross-country skis and snowshoes will not be available to borrow or rent.

10. Close Out the Month with a Guided Winter Hike

January 28th | Indian Springs Metropark | 8 a.m.

This January, we challenge you to close out this month exactly hope it began - on a trail, exploring our wild places, and building momentum towards earning your most active year yet. The ranger team at Indian Springs Metropark have made this easy for all of us by hosting an informative Winter Hike across the metropark's open prairie landscape and peaceful forest while searching for signs of wildlife. Participants will also learn about how native Michigan species survive the cold weather and long nights. The hike route may traverse level, composite wood boardwalks and hilly mixed gravel and grass pathways. Snow boots and ice grips are recommended as trails may be snow-covered and icy.


Happy New Year to you all, and wishing you nothing but the best heading into 2023. We can’t wait to see you out there!

Do you host an upcoming outdoor event that you would like to be featured in a future article? If yes, then we would love to hear from you! Please contact us at to discuss Expedition Detroit feature opportunities.


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