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Trail Beers: The Ultimate Drinking Guide to Detroit's Outdoors

Don't be fooling around this April 1st! Seriously - several Michigan alcohol restrictions kick in with the turn of the calendar. Don't worry, Detroit trail beer enthusiasts - here's your ultimate guide on how to responsibility - and lawfully - enjoy that crisp, well-deserved post-trail beer!

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 symbiotic relationship between the outdoor recreation and craft brewing industries 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 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 (a few major changes for 2024 too!).


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!

MICHIGAN STATE PARKS AND RECREATION AREAS

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.

OPEN FOR CONSUMPTION*

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.

  • Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area

  • Pinckney Recreation Area: Rented shelters in the Silver Lake and Halfmoon day-use areas, as well as within .25 miles of Pickerel Lake day-use area

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

  • Seven Lakes State Park

  • William C. Sterling State Park

ZERO BOOZE ZONE

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

  • Belle Isle Park

  • Dodge #4 State Park

  • Island Lake Recreation Area (except for rented picnic shelters)

  • Maybury State Park

  • Pontiac Lake State Recreation Area (only prohibited in 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.

HURON-CLINTON METROPARKS

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.

COUNTY PARKS

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.


The following rules and regulations apply to parks that are administered by the Detroit region's various county parks and recreation departments:


General Rule: There are no apparent restrictions on the consumption of alcohol within Livingston County parks.


General Rule: Rules and regulations are administered by municipal parks and recreation departments.


General Rule: There are no apparent restrictions on the consumption of alcohol within Monroe County parks.


General Rule: Alcoholic beverages may be brought into and consumed within Oakland County parks.

Exceptions: No alcohol may be possessed or consumed at dog parks, waterparks, waterpark parking lots, concession areas, golf courses (other than Red Oaks), banquet facilities, or other areas specifically prohibited by individual park rules.


Washtenaw County

General Rule: Unlawful to consume or be in possession of alcohol within any park.

Exceptions: Lawful to possess and consume alcohol with a valid Alcohol Permit at specified Independence Lake pavilions and facilities.


General Rule: Unlawful to consume or be in possession of alcohol without a written permit.

Exceptions: Bottled or canned beer in Middle Rouge Parkway, Lower Rouge Parkway, Bell Creek Park, Lola Valley Park, and Venoy-Dorsey Park.


General Rule: Lawful to consume or possess alcoholic beverages within county parks.

Exceptions: Use and/or possession of alcoholic beverages may be prohibited in specifically designated areas.

 

Yes, we admit it - we mostly wrote this article out of pure admiration for a beloved past time, the post-trail beer. Beyond that sentiment, we sincerely hope that this article provides a useful guide for you in navigating the alcohol restrictions that appropriately govern our favorite outdoor destinations. Nothing can kill the joy of an amazing MTB ride or thrilling trail run faster than an unexpected visit from a police or conservation officer.


Know the rules. Enjoy the ride. Sláinte.


Please always remember to drink responsibility. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of alcohol addiction, please click here to access resources that are available for you.

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