October means that FALL IS BACK IN DETROIT, along with your favorite autumnal traditions, seasonal treats, and the optimal opportunity to experience your favorite parks, trails, and waterways. With the best of Detroit's outdoor ecosystem waiting for your arrival, here's our short list of the Top Ten Outdoor Events near Detroit during the best month of the year!
We’ve said it once, twice, and possibly a million times: nothing beats October in the Detroit area.
Crisp mornings, warm days, screensaver-worthy foliage, less crowded trails and campgrounds, open season for hunting, premiere racing…one does not simply top the optimal recreational opportunities that October entails.
With an adventure-packed month like October, the sheer scope of the wealth of outdoor experiences available to you may come off as overwhelming at first. Trust us, you're not alone in the sentiment. If we're being honest, every October morning starts with a catharsis of which recreational aspirations we will pursue that day.
Don't worry though - when it comes to October in Metro Detroit, as long as you're outside on bluebird sky and color-filled day, then you're living your best life. Regardless of your recreational pursuit. That being said, if you're searching for a shortlist of the best outdoor events to provide some structure to this month of months, then you've clicked on the right article.
Here are Expedition Detroit's "Top Ten Outdoor Events near Detroit" occurring throughout this action-packed month!
1. Attend a Michigan DNR Fall Festival
Throughout October | Several State Parks and Recreation Areas
Looking for a festive autumnal getaway? Well, there’s a good chance that if you camp at one of Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas during the month of October, you will find yourself conveniently camping in the midst of a DNR-sponsored Fall Harvest Festival. The tradition that started at Metamora-Hadley State Recreation Area over 30 years ago has spread throughout the Detroit region, with most festival events only open to weekend campers. The festivities include hay rides, pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, costume contests, haunted trails, nature programs, and horse-drawn carriage rides. Oh, and don’t forget to explore some of the most beautiful trails in the State of Michigan while you’re at it.
2. Get in the Woods for Whitetail Deer Bow Season
Throughout October | Statewide in Michigan
Fall technically started on September 23rd, but the overwhelming consensus among Michigan outdoorsmen is that the season kicks off the moment that you get into your stand for whitetail deer season on October 1st. Months of gear preparation, scouting, land maintenance, target practice, and stand assembly have led to this moment. The temperature may be slightly warmer than preferred, but there’s no better place to sit back, watch the changing leaves wave in the wind, and wait for that buck of a lifetime to wander your way.
This season, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has specifically called on lower peninsula hunters to play a critical role in the DNR's conservation strategy. More specifically, in order to alleviate the significant stress that an overpopulation of deer has levied upon the lower peninsula's ecosystem, the DNR issued an open letter pleading for hunters to focus primarily on harvesting a doe during October's opening weeks. While that may seem counterintuitive to the longstanding - i.e., way outdated - approach to "bucks only" hunting, the DNR's action call also notes that taking an early-season doe will most likely entail increased rut activity, decreased young buck harvests, and improvement of overall herd ratios. Most importantly, increased doe harvests will also provide the long-term benefits of reduced cases of disease transmission, vehicle accidents involving deer, and destruction of farmland.
3. Hike and Sip at North 42 Degrees Estate Winery
Throughout October | Essex, ON | 10 a.m.
If a good hike and great wine in peak fall colors don’t get you excited for fall, then you just might be a lost cause. For the rest of us, our friends across the border at North 42 Degrees Estate Winery host a weekly “Hike 42 Degrees” event where hikers and tasters alike can enjoy the winery’s 40 acres of colorful Carolinian forest. The event’s entry ticket includes a guided hike, wine tasting, and an outdoor camp-style gourmet lunch prepared by the Bistro 42 Culinary Team.
4. Explore the Dequindre Cut during the Detroit Harvest Fest & Food Truck Rally
October 7-8th | Detroit, MI | 11 a.m.
In a month filled to the brim with outdoor adventure, sometimes we all need a day or two to take a nice, leisurely stroll through an open-air festival. Especially when said festival is hosted by the award-winning Detroit Riverfront Conservancy along one of the most famous trails in the city. Featuring live music, 50+ gourmet food trucks, renown street art, and events for the entire family to enjoy.
5. Hike under Peak Fall Colors with Expedition Detroit!
Throughout October | 11 State Parks and Recreation Areas
Peak fall colors are JUST AROUND THE CORNER, and there's no better way to experience them than on the trails of the Michigan State Parks! Not sure where to explore? No problem - we've curated dozens of guided trips intended to showcase the best of the best of the Detroit region's outdoors.
The Expedition Detroit team is proud to represent the Michigan DNR's largest commercial provider of guided hikes, backpacking expeditions, and trail running coach across ELEVEN of the Detroit region's most pristine state parks and recreation areas. Each of our guides has the field experience, wilderness first aid training, park knowledge, and outdoor passion that you can - and should - expect from any world-class trail experience.
We will be gradually adding new guided trips over the coming weeks, as well as special trips like night hiking safaris, photography-specific treks, and eventually guided snowshoe, mountain biking, and kayaking trips. So, stay tuned friends. We can't wait to host you on one of our trips soon!
6. Run the Detroit Free Press Marathon
October 15th | Detroit, MI | 7 a.m.
We are certainly not alone in declaring that the Detroit Free Press Marathon is the crown jewel of the Detroit region’s fall outdoor season. This year is especially noteworthy since the 2023 course will guide runners not only along the crowd-favorite Windsor Riverfront, but also through several new neighborhoods and destinations. The updated course includes routes within the District Detroit, Midtown, New Center, Eastern Market, and - FOR THE FIRST TIME - the world-famous Dequindre Cut Greenway!
On a personal note, my all-time favorite racing moment is watching the sunrise while running across the Ambassador Bridge. I don’t know how the race planners perfectly time that year after year, but it’s the icing on the cake for an already bucket list-worthy outdoor event. We hope that you'll join us at the starting line this year!
7. Hike with the Departed at Cemetery Tales
October 21st | Willow Metropark | 7 p.m.
With the month of October halfway gone, why not take “Spooky Season” to another level by hiking in a cemetery? The fearless folks at Willow Metropark have you covered - join their annual “Cemetery Tales: Stories from the Passed” hike through Huron Township Cemetery, which is located within the metropark. Your guided trek will also include history and folklore insights regarding the dear departed that you will be hiking amongst. The web advertisement for this event states, in all caps, “THIS IS NOT A HAUNTED ATTRACTION,” but come on… if that doesn’t make you superstitious, it must make you at least a littlestitious…
8. Wear your Mask, Cape, and Helmet at the Batman Ride
October 28th | Pinckney State Recreation Area | 7:00 p.m.
Looking to get some extra use out of your Batman halloween costume this year? Of course you are, you festive outdoor enthusiast. Pack it in alongside your nighttime MTB gear for a special themed "Batman Ride" sponsored by the Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association. In full disclosure, the only description for this event is "Ride the Poto, backwards, at night," so get ready for a night full of awesome mid-fall riding and whatever other surprises that the Poto MBA might have waiting in their utility belt...
9. Join a Lantern Hike under the Full Hunter’s Moon
October 28th | Oakwoods Metropark | 7:30 p.m.
October’s full moon - appropriately named the “Hunter’s Moon” - will reach its peak on October 28th. Be sure to catch a glimpse of this bright orange moon by heading over to Oakwoods Metropark for a guided “Evening Lantern Tour” led by a metropark ranger equipped with special historical and astronomical knowledge. We couldn’t resist doing some of our own research, though; it is believed that this full moon came to be called the “Hunter’s Moon” because it signaled the right time to start hunting in relation to the impending winter. We embrace this omen and proudly endorse this moon.
10. Run a Halloween-Themed Race
Throughout October | Various Locations
We’re admittedly suckers for hometown 5Ks and 10Ks, and themed races that are enjoyable for runners and spectators alike absolutely top our lists. Running in one of the “Halloween races” occurring across Metro Detroit will undoubtedly get you in the holiday spirit, especially if you forgo your typical race attire for the most sweat-resistant costume in your basement. RF Events’ “RUN, SCREAM, RUN” race kicks off the holiday season on October 7th at Wiard's Orchard in Ypsilanti (voted the number one horror attraction in Michigan). Finish Line Runs’ “Michigan Monster Dash” at Kensington Metropark occurs next on October 28th, which includes 1K, 5K, 10K, and half marathon events. Last, Kona Running’s “Wicked Halloween Run” at Maybury State Park closes out Spooky Season racing on the 29th.
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 email@example.com discuss Expedition Detroit feature opportunities.