By: Sara E. Teller
The Best Local Trails
Southeast Michigan offers a large network of local trails for adventurous hiking, biking, or cross-country skiing. Surrounding parks also offer additional recreational opportunities, often intersecting along the state’s most picturesque waterways. With many great options close to home, just Google “local trails near me” and you’ll find some of the best Oakland County has to offer. Here’s a sneak peek:
Addison Oaks County Park Trail. Addison Oaks in Leonard is a 1,140-acre park with individual and group camping spots, yurts, and cabins nestled along two lakes and spring-fed ponds. A 20+ mile trail system is perfect for hiking, and a 2.5-mile connector path joins the main park with Addison Oaks East and other recreation areas nearby. This trail drains really well after a hard rain and can be ridden right after a wet day with no damage to the trail. It is part of a Massive group ride (massivefallout.org, held every fall) that covers four of the best-known trails in the Rochester area.
Bald Mountain State Recreation Area Trail. Located off of M-24, in Lake Orion, this 4,637-acre state park consists of some of the most rugged terrain in southeastern Michigan. It provides year-round recreation opportunities, including trails for hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing, as well as designated areas for snowmobiling during the winter months.
Bloomer Park Loop. This trail is a 0.6 mile, heavily trafficked loop trail located in Rochester that includes the Yates Cider Mill Trail. It is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and mountain biking, and is a great spot to snap some shots of fall when the leaves start to change colors.
Clinton River Trail. The Clinton River Trail is a rail-trail that extends across 16 miles through suburban, urban, and rural portions of Detroit’s northern suburbs and runs along a rail line once known as the Michigan Airline through the heart of Oakland County. It includes the cities of Sylvan Lake, Pontiac, Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills and Rochester, and connects with the West Bloomfield trail to the west, Macomb Orchard Trail to the east, the Paint Creek Trail at the north. It is part of the planned cross-state Great Lake to Lake Trail, is multi-surfaced, and includes crushed limestone, pavement, and unpaved areas. Bicycles with very narrow tires are not advisable.
Complete Streets Project. The Complete Streets Project is a concept intended to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety by reducing vehicle speeds while also offering more modes of transportation. Considered a “road diet,” bike paths have begun to be installed and are visible along Coolidge Highway, through Berkley, which run in both directions from 11 Mile to 12 Mile. The Coolidge Highway Road Diet lanes, specifically, are intended to become part of a proposed multi-community bike system that also includes Huntington Woods and Oak Park.
Huron Valley Trail. The Huron Valley Trail is just over 12 miles and extends along the former Grand Trunk Railroad from South Lyon, through Lyon Township and into Milford Township, then south on Old Plank Road to Pontiac Trail, and east on Pontiac Trail along the north side of Lyon Oaks County Park to the Wixom city limits. The trail runs a full mile along Lyon Oaks County Park. An extension to the west goes through Lyon Township Park and along Grand River Avenue into Island Lake State Recreation Area. The trail provides direct access to McHattie and Volunteer Parks in South Lyon, the James F. Atchison Memorial Park, Lyon Oaks County Park, Kensington Metropark, and Island Lake State Recreation Area, and there is parking available at all sites.
I-275 Metro Trail. An asphalt path, the I-275 Metro Trail, formerly known as the I-275 Bikeway, runs parallel to I-275 and was constructed in response to the 1970s energy crisis. It is a 31.6-mile-long pathway with points in Monroe, Wayne, and Oakland counties. There are 24 access points to the trail located at major crossroads. Since its grand re-opening in 2011, the bike path has been formerly known as the I-275 Metro Trail, has been completely repaved, and consists of a junction with the Downriver Linked Greenways East-West Trail near South Huron Road, extending north to 12 Mile Road in Novi.
Independence Oaks County Park Trail. Independence Oaks is the largest Oakland County Park at 1,286 acres and includes more than 12 miles of natural and paved trails. In the winter, cross-country ski equipment is available for rent. Twin Chimney Shelter provides a picturesque view of 68-acre Crooked Lake and is popular for outdoor weddings.
Indian Springs Trail. Indian Springs in White lake is part of the Huron-Clinton system of metro parks and consists of 2,547 acres. While much of the park is designed for wildlife preservation, there is also an 8-mile paved hike-bike trail, 12 miles of cross-country ski trails, and picnic areas along the way.
ITC Corridor Trail. This 4.66-mile asphalt path is the result of a collaboration between the City of Novi and ITC Holdings Corp. It encompasses the entire city from north to south connecting the Ascension Providence Hospital campus to ITC Community Sports Park. The trail is perfect for hiking and biking between different parks and communities. A trailhead is located at ITC Community Sports Park in southwest Novi.
Island Lake Pathway. This 4.3-mile asphalt, along with the Island Lake Trail Connector which is 0.8 miles long and consists of crushed stone, is part of the park’s 4,000-acre park. It is located on the Huron River just downstream of Kensington Metropark and is ideal for hiking and biking.
Kensington Metropark Trail, a paved path, is part of Kensington Metropark, the third busiest park in the state. It is located between Milford and South Lyon and the park itself covers 4,543 acres. An 8-mile hike-bike path, 19 miles of horse trails, and 7 miles of hiking-only trails are available, which all connect with other nearby parks.
M-5 Metro Trail. M-5, commonly referred to as Grand River Avenue, runs through suburbs in Oakland and Wayne counties in addition to parts of Detroit. An adjacent hiking-biking trail, just over two miles long, starts in Commerce Township and continues to the Haggerty Connecter and I-96 in Novi.
Metro Connector Trail. The Metro Connector Trail is a 2.5-mile paved, non-motorized pathway extending from the MDOT Metro Trail at I-96 to the intersection at 12 Mile Road in Novi. It is designed for bicyclists and hikers and is part of the city’s efforts to enhance the safety of both pedestrian crossing and cycling.
Michigan Air Line Trail currently includes a 5.45 mile stretch of asphalt and is part of a concept for a 270-mile, non-motorized pathway that will run across the southern portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula from Port Huron (Lake Huron) to South Haven (Lake Michigan). MDOT constructed a pedestrian/trail bridge over the M-5 freeway in Commerce Township in 2018, removing that obstacle to continuity of the trail. Completion of this project will add to Michigan’s identity as the top trail state in the nation, boosting tourism and generating new non-motorized travel. The first phase was opened in the spring of 2020 and a second two-mile phase is currently underway.
Milford Trail. This hiking-biking trail, which is the result of a collaborative effort between Michigan DNR, Village of Milford and the Milford Trail Committee, starts at the Milford YMCA and continues across the dam and along G.M. road. It heads south near Martindale Rd. and ends at the Kensington Metropark entrance near Dairy Queen. The total distance is 3.6 miles.
Paint Creek Trail is an 8.9-mile crushed limestone rail trail in northeast Oakland County, which follows Paint Creek, a stream that flows southeast to Clinton River. Paint Creek Trail was named a National Recreation Trail in 2006 and it was the first non-motorized rail-to-trail path in the state. It runs through Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Orion Township, and the Village of Lake Orion.
Polly Ann Trail. The Polly Ann Trail is a major non-motorized trail that is a total of 34.2 miles long and ends at the Bordman Road at the Lapeer/Oakland County border. The Oakland County portion connects the townships of Orion, Oxford and Addison, and the Villages of Oxford and Leonard. The Orion Township pathway system consists of both paved surfaces and crushed stone areas, and Polly Ann Trail connects with the Paint Creek Trail.
West Bloomfield Trail. This crushed stone pathway, just under 7 miles long, is part of a 64-acre linear park. The path runs through West Bloomfield, Orchard Lake, Keego Harbor, and Sylvan Lake, extending from Sylvan Manor Park in the east to Haggerty Road in the west. It includes scenic views, benches, bike racks, mileage marked, portable restrooms, and picnic areas, making it a popular spot to visit in the warm weather months.
Many of Oakland County’s pathways are interconnected, so it’s easy to check out one and hop over to another all in the same trip – time permitting, of course. Whether you’re an avid bicyclist, skier, photographer or just need a peaceful walk after a busy day, there are trails nearby to suit your needs. So, grab your camera and a water bottle for refueling, and let the adventure begin!
If you enjoyed this, you’ll love these articles: