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#TrailTuesday: Exploring the Maybury State Park Hiking Trail Loop

Welcome back to our weekly #TrailTuesday Series! This edition digs into one of the most popular trails in the entire Detroit region - a well deserved designation - within the heart of Maybury State Park. Join us as we traverse the rolling hills and expansive wetlands of Maybury!

Maybury State Park fall colors hiking hike trail michigan detroit

Have you ever experienced the joy - and frustration - of recognizing that something beautiful was hiding in plain sight?


Maybe you finally realized that an old friend from your school years also constituted your ideal romantic partner. You serendipitously dropped into that one coffee shop that you’ve commuted right past for years, only for daily stops at said coffee shop to evolve into a staple of your workweek. You finally launched that business venture based on your natural gifts and interests. Or maybe you sat down and had a conversation with that one relative that you never thought you could form a strong bond with - and years later you’re practically joined at the hip.


Detroit’s outdoors, in the aggregate, represent another “hidden in plain sight” opportunity. For us at Expedition Detroit, the scales from our recreationist eyes didn’t largely fall until the pandemic shut off the valve to the rest of the outdoor world. Especially during the spring of 2020, the only places available to explore were our immediate surroundings: the parks, rivers, forests, and lakes that most of us have rarely visited despite such places being “home.”


For me personally, Maybury State Park had been hiding in plain sight for 13 pre-pandemic years. From my childhood home, you can clearly see the headlamps of mountain bikers riding at night along the park’s far-eastern trails. Owls, hawks, and even the occasional coyote could easily venture into our backyard from the sanctuary of the park. World-class experiences on some of the Detroit region’s best kept trails were a mere stone’s throw away.


If this article serves one purpose, we hope that it will inspire you to explore that local trailhead that you may pass by on a daily basis but have yet to hike, run, or bike. And don’t lose any sleep if there is such a trail in your life - just like that hypothetical coffee shop or hometown sweetheart, I’m happy to report that Maybury’s trails have become a staple in my outdoor livelihood.


It’s an honor to share one of our favorite parks and trails with you now.

MEET MAYBURY STATE PARK

Maybury State Park originated from 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.


The Maybury of 2023 provides the crown jewel of Northville's outdoor recreation ecosystem. Especially in light of its proximity to the demographic core of our (over)developed metropolitan area, Maybury contains recreational opportunities that Metro Detroiters typically need to travel to our region's periphery - or Up North - to experience. 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.

Now - let's get to the trail.

HIT THE TRAIL

Total Distance: 3.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 127 feet

Trail Rating: Easy

Route Orientation: Loop

Parking Specifics: Michigan Recreation Passport required for parking.


Despite the map shared above, there are actually two primary trailheads at Maybury that you can utilize as "points of attack" for this trail. As noted above, there is an expansive parking lot and trailhead just south of 8 Mile Road that serves as the "designated trailhead" via AllTrails. If you plan to hike the trail during "peak visit times," e.g. a Sunday afternoon mid-summer, then parking here is your best bet to ensure a spot. The other option is parking just east of Maybury Pond via the Beck Road entrance to the park. This is our preferred route to start the trail, seeing as you will finish the route with a decline vs. incline, but the smaller parking lot does fill up quickly.


For the purposes of this article, we will describe the trail from the main 8 Mile parking lot. The trail quickly leads hikers and runners into the "wooded highlands" section of the park, ideal for bird and deer sightings (which will be plentiful, especially during late fall). The trail does provide opportunities within the first 0.2 miles to venture north onto additional loops through the "prairie" area of the park. If you would like to stretch your perfect 5K hike into a 4-miler, this is the best opportunity to do so. Otherwise keep pressing on via a steady decline in the woods, all the while keeping your eyes peeled for roots.

There are only two potential hazards on this trail. The first occurs at the 0.6/2.6 mile marker, where the hiking trail directly bisects the equestrian trail. Always remember to yield to equestrian traffic on the trail. This golden of rule of trail etiquette is intended to protect you, the rider, and the horse from easily avoidable harm. Give the horse and rider plenty of space, especially if you have no better option than to walk behind the horse (try to avoid this movement if possible). If venturing off-trail, try to avoid damaging the flora around the trail.


The second dangerous point occurs between the 0.7-1 mile markers, or 2.2-2.5 on the return. This short segment of the trail consists of surprisingly steep and root-filled declines/inclines. Take your time on this section, paying extra attention to secure footholds.


The final section of this trail, which will serve as your grand "turnaround point" if starting at the 8 Mile trailhead, surrounds Maybury Pond. The trail circumnavigates the pond via a series of boardwalks, which are very popular with anglers during the warmer months. The views of the pond and its wildlife are spectacular year-round, but especially in the fall during peak foliage and winter after fresh snowfall. Look out for trumpeter swans, Canadian geese, mallards, and even a snapping turtle that's spotted regularly on the banks of the pond.


Once your circumnavigation of the pond is complete, the hiking trail will guide you back into the highlands for another stint under Maybury's thick canopy. Other than a westward deviation at the 2.7 mile marker, this trail will follow your exact route that led downhill towards the pond. Keep your eyes peeled for relics from the sanatorium era during the hike, and don't forget to bask in the natural beauty that surrounds you.

WEEKEND BONUS TIPS

Maybury is an all-season state park, and for reasons far beyond its ever-popular hiking and walking trails. Maybury's mountain biking trail - the first MTB trail that I ever rode - has a near cult-following within the Detroit region. The Motor City Mountain Biking Association has maintained the moderate-ranked trail for years in immaculate condition, including building additional features over the last two off-seasons. The trail also provides fantastic cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking terrain.


Beyond the park's proprietary trails, visitors recreating near Maybury Pond may also notice little blue and red lines designating "The Link" trail. If you find yourself lucky enough to visit Maybury on a weekend day with nothing but time on your hands and calories to burn, then we strongly recommend that you follow this trail. Where do these little signs lead, you may ask? First, into the heart of Downtown Northville - one of our favorite "Trail Towns" in the Detroit region. Second, to the northern terminus of Hines Drive - another world-class recreation destination that we reference frequently across our content.


To summarize, Maybury represents just the tip of the ice berg of thrilling outdoor recreation opportunities within an interconnected trail system surrounding northwestern Wayne County. Lace up your shoes, fill up your water bottle, and pump up those tires - you, my friend, are about to set out on a great expedition.

 

The #TrailTuesday Series idea started as a recommendation from readers looking for a deeper analysis into the individual trails that define Detroit's vast network. One of our main goals for this platform is to produce content that reflects the outdoor interests and desires of our community, so please continue to provide us with your suggestions via our contact form or here in the comments!

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