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Trail Town Spotlight: Northville, Michigan

The second installation of our #TrailTownSpotlight series, we're highlighting the best features of Northville, Michigan for every hometown outdoor enthusiast. Check out why we are celebrating this oasis of adventure opportunities within the heart of the Detroit region!

If you take a quick look at the map on our Destinations page, one overarching aspect includes that the majority of Detroit's premiere outdoor opportunities are found along the outer rim of our region. Geography bears the responsibility for that - the western rim of rolling, forested hills and the great waterways of the east naturally draw recreationists towards the periphery.

But there's one particular location that jumps out on our map as an oasis of adventure within the great interior of the Detroit region. The home of a state park, the the northern terminus of a premiere biking trail, and an innovator for the expansion of community outdoor recreation opportunities.


That location, my friends, is Northville, Michigan. A place that I've grown to love dearly over the last 15 years. A town that continues to invest in its outdoor opportunities. A community whose collective conservation efforts are well worth the recognition that we are aiming to provide in this article.

It is our pleasure to re-introduce Northville - a city and township straddling both Wayne and Oakland Counties that is home to over 30,000 residents. Dating back to 1825, Northville's historic city center has evolved through the centuries into a dynamic and thriving "Pure Michigan" downtown. Northville represents the ideal prototype of a city that has both preserved its 19th century victorian, "frontier" character while developing its core center to attract business suited for the 21st century. Most importantly, Northville has emphasized not only preserving its outdoor spaces during such innovative development, but actually expanding recreational opportunities for generations to come.


Northville is one of several cities in the Detroit region that has adopted the "European approach" to urban development: creating a predominantly pedestrian city center for unhindered mobility at its core, coupled with immediate access to green spaces surrounding the city's developed areas. As such, Northville's outdoor highlights begin at the city's core and organically extend to cover the entirety of its periphery. Insert "chef's kiss" emoji for near-perfect city planning for an outdoor enthusiast.

Starting within "The Twist" - Northville's pedestrian-only outdoor corridor covering portions of East Main Street and North Center Street - the main Town Square, Ford Field Park, and Mill Race Historical Village are all easily within walking distance from downtown's trendy stores, coffee shops, and restaurants. Northville's predominant water system, the Walled Lake Branch of the Middle Rouge River, flows bifurcates Ford Field Park from Mill Race Village and provides decent waterfowl viewing opportunities. The main remaining outdoor destinations that are walking distance from downtown include the historic Oakwood Cemetery, Fish Hatchery Park and Denton Park.

While walking through the heart of downtown to these destinations, you may also notice distinct blue and red trail marker signs for "The Link." Congratulations - you have just found Northville's biking and jogging highway linking its two premiere outdoor destinations: Maybury State Park and Hines Park. The Link runs west-east between the northeastern corner of Maybury State Park and the northwestern terminus of Hines Park, connecting these epicenters of adventure via a clearly-marked trail running along 8 Mile Road, Randolph, Wing, Main, Cady, Beal, and River Streets.

Northville's last outdoor highlight - Legacy Park - is still largely a work in progress. Located south of 7 Mile Road behind the former location of the Northville Psychiatric Hospital, Legacy Park will comprise of a 332-acre "green space oasis" that will host hiking and mountain biking trails and other amenities. Some trails are already ready for exploration...more on that in a bit.


Maybury is without a doubt the crown jewel of Northville's outdoor recreation ecosystem. As I mentioned in our introductory paragraph, Detroit area residents typically need to travel to our region's periphery to experience the world-class opportunities that Maybury provides within our core area. Hiking and trail running? Check. Mountain biking? 6.3 miles of one of our favorite single-track loops. Equestrian trails? Day camp options? Family-friendly farms, sports fields, and fishing piers? Checks all around.

The true genius behind Maybury is the visionary reimagining of what was once the Detroit Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. Back in 1919, William H. Maybury, the park's namesake patron who spearheaded the sanitarium's development, believed that the beautiful natural surroundings would help nurse some patients back to health at a time when no cure existed for the disease. Although the sanitarium closed in 1969, resulting in its 944 acres becoming Wayne County's first state park in 1975, its legacy lives on through the provision of a small patch of wilderness that alleviates the masses from the chronic stresses of urban life.


Let's imagine that you've explored Maybury, followed The Link through the heart of Downtown Northville, and now you've reached the trail's southern terminus at 7 Mile Road. Well, you may want to fuel up at one of the pizza joints just east of The Link's terminus point - you've just reached the northernmost point of one of the Detroit Region's preeminent outdoor trail system: Hines Park.

Starting just south of Northville Downs, Hines Park provides a lifetime of outdoor recreation opportunities stretching from Northville to Dearborn along the banks of the Middle Rouge River. Within Northville Township, the Hines Park system includes the sporting fields at Northville Recreation Area, the famed hills and trails of Bennett Arboretum, the Cass Benton Hills Disc Golf Course, the playgrounds at Waterford Bend Recreation Area, and the ruins of historic Meads Mill.

The central vein of Hines Park is the paved Hines Park Trail runs parallel to the scenic Hines Drive. Trail users beware: the steepest climb and highest point of the entirety of the 17.5 mile Hines Park