12 Incredible Hikes In & Near Detroit for All Levels
By Guest Contributor
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Updated June 24, 2021
Urban hikers rejoice! Detroit has many amazing hikes and trails located within a short drive of the city. From skiing to running to hiking and biking, there are plenty of ways to explore the outdoors in and around the city! Hiking in Detroit is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to get some fresh air and learn more about this enduring city. Read on to see our picks of the best places to go hiking near Detroit.
Easy Hikes near Detroit
Dequindre Cut Greenway
Distance: 2 miles one way
The greenway is a short paved trail that follows along the old Grand Trunk Railroad line. Starting right next to the riverfront, the trail will take you straight northwest underneath dozens of underpasses decorated with colorful graffiti. Although it’s a short trail, the Dequindre Cut will take you through old abandoned parts of the city that have had new life breathed into them by local artists and muralists. For photographers looking for urban art, this hike in Detroit is a must.
Distance: 4 miles there and back
Located right at the heart of the city, the Detroit Riverfront is the most accessible and closest trail for easy urban hiking near Detroit. The path is entirely paved, making this an easy trail for all skill levels. Dogs are allowed if they are on a leash. While the path is right next to the bustling city center, it’s easy to tune out the noise and buildings and feel closer to nature here. On a clear day, you can see across the border into Canada.
Lake St. Clair Metropark Loop
Distance: 3.5 mile loop
Location: Harrison Township
An easy paved loop path, the Lake St. Clair Metropark is a small oasis of nature in the middle of the suburbs of Detroit. Those looking for hikes near Detroit can take a short drive up north along the coast line of Lake St. Clair to the park, where tranquil waters and the steady breeze from the lake will calm your senses. Bring your furry friends as dogs on leashes are allowed.
Belle Isle Lighthouse Trail
Distance: 2.2 mile loop
Location: Belle Isle
Situated inside city limits, Belle Isle offers a nearby escape from the bustle of city life on a tranquil little island in the Detroit River. The trail is a loop around the serene Blue Heron Lagoon, Gravel paths make up the trek. The park has recently been taken over by the state of Michigan and dogs are now allowed. We recommend doing the trail at sunrise to get grogeous views. When you finish with the trail, hop over to the conservatory and admire the thousands of different wildflowers blooming all year round.
Macomb Orchard Trail
Distance: 23.6 miles one way
Location: Trailheads near Richmond and Rochester
Green fields and dense trees as far as the eye can see make up the Macomb Orchard trail. Favored by many locals as a pristine biking trail, hikers can also take advantage of long distance hiking within a short drive from Denver. The entire length of the trail is paved, meaning the hike is stroller and wheelchair friendly. Local farmers sometimes set up fruit stands along different parts of the trail. There are frequent water fountains and bathroom stalls along the trail as well.
Moderate Hikes near Detroit
Proud Lake Marsh Trail
Distance: 5.6 mile loop
Location: Proud Lake Recreation Area
This trail is actually a combination of several trails within the Proud Lake area. It’s made up of two smaller loops connected by a bridge crossing over the river extending into Moss Lake. The trail will take you through a beautiful pine forest and features several camping sites to turn this trek into an overnight backpacking trip. The park is open in the winter time, letting hikers enjoy snowshoeing opportunities a short drive away from Detroit.
Graham Lakes Trail
Distance: 3.4 mile loop
Location: Bald Mountain Recreation Area
Hikers looking for something slightly more challenging should look to Bald Mountain. Lots of rolling hills will give you some elevation gain to get your blood pumping. The park offers beautiful scenery in a secluded wooded area, with plenty of turns, roots, creeks, and rocks to keep the trek interesting. This trail is a 40 minute drive north of the city, making it a great spot to go hiking near Detroit.
Paint Creek Trail (Lake Orion)
Distance: 18.7 mile round trip
Location: Bloomer Park near Rochester, MI
Looking for a long distance hike near Detroit? Only 30 minutes outside of the city lies Bloomer Park, home to the Paint Creek Trail. A 19 mile trek, this trail will take you through densely wooded areas and allow you to get a taste of nature near Detroit. The two trailheads can sometimes get a bit crowded, but as you keep getting deeper into the trail the crowds disperse. The northward part of the trail is mostly uphill, giving hikers an extra challenge. Unfortunately, there aren’t any campgrounds on this trail. In fact, some parts of the trail will take you through some residential areas. We recommend the Paint Creek trail for hikers looking to train for long distance trips.
Chain of Lakes
Distance: 7.8 mile loop
Location: Pinckney Recreation Area
Drive for an hour outside of Detroit and you’ll soon be surrounded by forests and lakes. Silver Lake and Crooked Lake make up a system of small creeks, ponds, and lakes in Pinckney Recreation Area. The chain of lakes trail will take you along a serpentine patch around several gorgeous blue lakes. The trail is best enjoyed in the Autumn for the colorful leaf changes, but is open year round. Most of the trail is a boardwalk, though it’s often shared with mountain bikers.
Green Lake and Big Kame Loop
Distance: 9 mile loop
Location: Waterloo State Recreation Area
Just one hour outside of the city, this 9 mile trail is a secluded loop offering a great outdoors experience for hiking near Detroit. The trail is mostly gravel, and it is frequently shared by mountain bikers. You’ll walk through dense woods, offering the chance to see wildlife and wildflower blooms in the Spring. The trail does have a bit of elevation changes, making this a little more difficult, but the path is well-marked and well-maintained. The highlight of the trail is the scenic Green Lake shoreline.
Challenging Hikes near Detroit
North Country Trail: US 10 to County Line
Distance: 25.6 mile one way
Location: US-10 at Timber Creek Campground
A true backcountry experience, the North Country Trail, or NCT for short, is a gargantuan trek that spans from the eastern edge of New York to Montana. If you are looking for epic hikes near Detroit, this is it! This section of the NCT starts in a remote campsite located along the US-10 highway. You’ll hike through completely secluded dense woods, but the trail is relatively clean and well maintained. More serious hikers have the option of continuing the trek all the way up to the upper peninsula over several nights. The trail ends at E Riverside Dr right before the Little Manistee River.
Distance: 40.5 mile one way
Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Upper Peninsula
While not really close to Detroit, we’ve included this hike on the list because it was too epic not to share. The Lakeshore Trail, like its name suggests, runs along the northern coast of the upper peninsula along the shores of Lake Superior. This 40.5 mile trail follows sky-blue water bordered by rocky cliffs. You might forget you’re in the Midwest while hiking here.
We recommend this trail only to experienced hikers as the trail signage is not great and it requires at least 3-4 nights on the trail. You’ll have to register for backcountry permits at the National Park Service website and do some proper food and pack planning. The trail is part of the 4,600 mile North Country Trail, so you might meet a long distance hiker on the way! May and late July are the best times to go due to mosquitos and flies.
Additional Resources for Hiking near Detroit
What to Bring for Hiking in Detroit
Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to wear a sweat-wicking shirt and breathable pants, like these Patagonia hiking shorts for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers for men and women, a down puffer jacket for men and women, and a Northface waterproof outer shell for men and women (a must for hiking in Seattle). And don’t forget a pair of the best women’s and men’s hiking socks!
Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we suggest throwing them in your car just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond Trail Ergo cork trekking poles, which are lightweight, easy to transport, and durable.
Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To limit disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask water bottles because they keep water cold for hours.
Sunscreen and bug spray – Sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects. Our favorite kind of sunscreen is Sun Bum, as it is free of harsh chemicals and safe for marine life, including coral reefs.
A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or capfor day hikes in the sunshine.
Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend the Osprey Tempest 20 or the Talon 22 day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes. For more information, check out our best day packs for any terrain guide.
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