Exploration Guides

We're all explorers. You just need the right guide.

Welcome, Explorers!

Welcome to Exploration Guides!

The first day of spring, March 20, 2011, was the day of our Grand Opening. We now have thirteen free Android apps covering 14 parks in southeast Michigan, which have been downloaded  thousands of times and our first two Destination apps, Destination: Lighthouse – North America and Destination: Waterfall – North America.

Our first book, Dayhiking, is now available worldwide from Amazon, and soon from Barnes & Noble, as well.  You can get Dayhiking at http://www.amazon.com/Dayhiking-Exploration-Guides-Hiking-ebook/dp/B00CQOP7K6

We have a lot more data, and more books and apps are coming.  Feel free to look around, download the free apps, make suggestions for new features, and, most importantly, go outside and explore!

Read our blog for info on new apps, trip reports, and more.

Check out our free apps.

May 12, 2013 Posted by | | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Lake Erie Metropark

Lake Erie Metropark is the southernmost park in the Huron Clinton Metropark chain.  Located in Brownstown, Michigan, at the extreme northwest corner of Lake Erie, at the mouths of both the Detroit and Huron rivers, this small park is a popular escape with plenty to offer explorers.

Although fairly small, the park offers 11 km of trails, about half paved.  There is also the Marsh Museum and Nature Center, a wave pool, golf course, and plenty of opportunities to explore the marsh by canoe or kayak.

This page is just a small part of the free Lake Erie Metropark mobile app.

Visit the official Lake Erie Metropark page.

Return to the main Huron Clinton Metroparks page.

July 21, 2011 Posted by | | , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Stony Creek Metropark Trails

Stony Creek Metropark is huge.  So huge, there’s room for 70 km of trails, spread throughout the park, with trails suitable to nearly any activity.

There are rattlesnakes in the park, but they usually stay well away from explorers.  Anywhere in the north end of the park, around the nature center or Inwood trails, leaving the trails greatly increases your risk of a rattlesnake encounter, so staying on the trails is strongly suggested.

Paved Trail:

There is one paved loop trail in Stony Creek Metropark.  Circling Stony Creek Lake, the 10.5 km of trail includes the main loop, with spurs to both Eastwood Beach and Baypoint Beach, as well as another connecting spur trail south, out of the park entrance, to the Shelby Township hike-bike trail network.  Access to the trail is available anywhere around the main road encircling Stony Creek Lake.

Nature Center Area Trails:

The Nature Center, located at the north end of the main park, is the center of the nature trail network.  Except for the Inwood Trails and Osprey Trail, all nature trails are best accessed from the Nature Center parking lot.  The trails adjacent to the nature center are well-marked and well-maintained.

  • Reflection Trail: At just under 1 km, this is one of the shorter trails, but still worth hiking.  Beginning at the nature center, descend to Stony Creek, then travel a short distance along the creek before returning to the nature center.  No pets are allowed on this trail.
  • Landscape Trail: This 2.5 km trail is the middle-length loop of the main nature trail area, located west of the nature center.  With a combination of creekside trails, woods, and wetlands, this trail offers a good mix of the local ecosystems.  No pets are allowed on this trail.
  • Habitat Trail: The longest of the main nature area trails, at 4.3 km, this trail traverses woodlands and wetlands, with plenty of variety, even including a walk past a meadow with a “high” rattlesnake population.  No pets are allowed on this trail.
  • East Lake Trail: Located across the parking lot from the nature center, the East Lake trail is a 5.7 km trail, with several opportunities to shorten the trail on established shortcut trails.  This trail travels along the east side of the small lake formed by the north dam.  At the far end of the trail, you go onto a short, sandy point where snapping turtles lay hundreds of eggs every year.  A shirt spur off this trail takes you to the osprey hacking tower.  No pets are allowed on this trail.
  • Osprey Trail: Across the lake from the East Lake Trail is the 2.1 km Osprey Trail.  Less maintained, and less traveled, than the other nature center area trails, this trail gives you the opportunity to take a quiet stroll through the easy, relatively level woodlands, possibly without seeing anyone else on the trails, even on a busy day.  There is a small parking lot at the entrance to the Osprey Trail, or you can walk out on the spur from the East Lake Trail, past the hacking tower, to the road, cross over Stony Creek, then go back into the woods on the Osprey Trail.

Inwood Trails:

The Inwood Trails are located on a reclaimed gravel pit, north of the main park area.  You can access the Inwood Trails via a small lot off Inwood Road, or by walking down a service drive out the north end of the nature center parking lot.

The trails are not well maintained, but this shouldn’t discourage you from exploring here.  While not groomed, may be some of the nicest cross country skiing in the park.  When there’s no snow on the ground, the gravel pit history of this area means the ground his hard packed gravel, with clusters of trees, with the remaining area filled with quick-growing groundcover.  Unfortunately, this is the absolutely perfect habitat for ticks (4 were picked up while surveying the trails for our app), so be sure to use plenty of insect repellant, frequently check for ticks, and dress appropriately.

  • Inwood South Loop: This 5 km trail loops around the small, artificial lake at the south end of the Inwood area, and explores many of the non-wooded ecosystems in this area.
  • Inwood North Loop: At 4km, this trail visits the more wooded parts of the Inwood area in the northern area.  A short hike on the northern spur takes you to the shores of Inwood Lake.
  • Inwood Big Loop: At 5.8 km, the Big Loop trail completely encircles the Inwood area, including the areas visited with both the north and south loop trails.

Trolley Trails:

The Trolley Trails are located in the southeast part of the park, near the entrance.  The least-used trails in the main park, the Trolley Trails allow both hikers and mountain bikes.  With well-maintained trails traversing hilly, wooded terrain, this is a good trail network when you’re looking for a nice, shaded hike without a lot of people.  The mountain bike skills course is accessed from the same parking lot as the Trolley Trails.

  • Trolley Trails East Loop: This 2.5 km loop covers the hilliest part of the Trolley Trail area, looping around several deep ravines.
  • Trolley Trails West Loop: At 2.2 km, this loop covers the western, flatter part of the Trolley Trail area.
  • Trolley Trails Big Loop: The 3.2km loop trail fully encircles the Trolley Trail area.

Fitness Trail:

The 3km Fitness Trail loop starts and ends at Eastwood Beach.  Traversing the loop, you encounter stations along the way with instructions for 31 activities, including stretches, to give you a good workout in a short distance.  Approximately half the trail follows the paved trail, before it loops back through the woods to head back to the beach.

Mountain Bike Trails:

The main mountain bike trail network is mostly on the ruins of the Sheldon Estate.  Although not much is left of this estate, there’s plenty to see, if you look for it, including the fenced ruins of the tennis court, a stairway, old roads, and a lot of fencing, which once enclosed the estate.

Mountain biking is allowed on both the main mountain bike trails and on the Trolley Trails.  Hiking and cross country skiing is also allowed, so bikers are advised to keep an eye out for hikers, who always have the right of way on trails.

The easy trails in this area are all two-lane trails.  The hard, and some of the medium trails, are one-lane, so are one-way for bikes (still two-way for hikers).  The intersections are all clearly marked with maps, and one-way trails are marked with no-bike signs, if you’re headed the wrong direction.

During the winter, cross country ski rentals are available at the golf course clubhouse, with access to this trail network.

  • Mountain Bike Trails – North Loop – Easy: This 5.3 km easy loop trail encircles the northern 2/3 of the trail network.
  • Mountain Bike Trails – South Loop – Easy: At 3.6 km, this loop begins at the north end of the golf course parking lot and encircles the southern third of the area.
  • Mountain Bike Trails – Big Loop – Easy: This 7 km loop trail combines the north and south loop trails.
  • Mountain Bike Trails – Hard – A 10 km trail, this route goes through the extreme hills in the middle of the trail network.  Switchbacks along ravines, steep climbs, and narrow tracks are the norm for this challenging trail.

This page is just a small part of the Stony Creek Metropark mobile app.

Return to the main Stony Creek Metropark page.

July 19, 2011 Posted by | | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stony Creek Metropark Rentals

Stony Creek Metropark has a number of rental opportunities available.

  • Bike rental is available at Eastwood Beach.
  • Boat rental, with canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, and rowboats, is available just west of Baypoint Beach.
  • Cross country ski rentals are available at the golf course.

This page is just a small part of the Stony Creek Metropark mobile app.

Return to the main Stony Creek Metropark page.

July 19, 2011 Posted by | | , , , , | Leave a Comment

Stony Creek Metropark

Located in Shelby Township, north of Utica, Michigan, is Stony Creek Metropark.  A part of the Huron Clinton Metropark chain, Stony Creek is HUGE at 4461 acres.  Located around two, man-made lakes on the Clinton River, with plenty of canoe and kayak opportunities, Stony Creek is home to two beaches, 70 km of trails (including hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, in-line skating, and fitness trails), a par-72 golf course, a 24-hole disc golf course, a mountain bike skills course, boat and bike rental, and a nature center.  The park always has a lot of people, but it’s so big, so spread out, it rarely looks crowded, so there’s plenty of room for you to explore.

Return to the main Huron Clinton Metropark page.

Visit the official Stony Creek Metropark page.

This page is just a small part of the Stony Creek Metropark mobile app.

July 19, 2011 Posted by | | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Willow Metropark Trails

Lower Huron, Willow, and Oakwoods Metroparks all have their own trail networks, but as those trails are all interconnected, the trail network is even larger, totalling nearly fifty kilometers.  For the Lower Huron/Willow/Oakwoods app, we have combined all three parks together, to make it easier to pass through the extensive trail network, independent of what park you start in.

Paved Trails (Hiking, Biking, Inline Skating)

1.  Lower Huron Paved Trail (14km – round trip) A linear, out and back trail, with connectors at the south end to New Boston and a long connector trail along the Huron River to Willow Metropark.  This trail has a few moderate hills, and traverses forests and mowed grass areas.  The wooden bridge over the Huron River can be dangerous for bikers and skaters.
2.  Willow Full Paved Loop (6km) The main loop trail around the entire park, through a mix of woods, prairie, and mowed grass parkland.
3.  Willow North Paved Loop (4km) The northern end of the main loop, cutting across via a shortcut in the middle.
4.  Willow South Paved Loop (4km) The southern end of the main loop, cutting across via a shortcut in the middle.
5.  Oakwoods Paved Trail (10km – round trip) An out and back paved trail, mostly through open prairie.  Some parts of this trail are prone to flooding in early spring and after heavy rains.  The railroad crossing in the middle of the trail is rough, so bikers and skaters are advised to be careful.
6.  Full Paved Trail (40km – round trip) The full, out and back trail, including the full loop around Willow Metropark.  This is an excellent trail for fitness enthusiasts, with no major hills and little competing traffic.  The trail traverses diverse combination of terrain, including dense forest, open prairie, wetlands, and mowed parkland.  There are several wooden bridges over the Huron River, as well as two railroad crossings on this route, which can be dangerous for in-line skaters and bikers.

Nature Trails (Hiking-only)

7.  Lower Huron Bob White Trail (1.5km) A short, mostly level trail through dense woodlands well above the river.
8.  Lower Huron PawPaw Trail (1km) A short trail through woods, starting on the bluffs above the Huron River before descending into the river’s floodplain.  An interesting contrast with the non-floodplain Bob White Trail.
9.  Oakwoods Big Tree Trail (no dogs allowed) (1.3km) A flat, wooded trail, adjacent to the Oakwoods Nature Center, with interpretative signs to help with plant identification.
10.  Oakwoods Sky-Come-Down Trail (no dogs allowed) (1.5km) Wandering through the edges of woods and meadows, and visiting the pond, as well, this trail gives a good variety of local ecosystems.  The trail is adjacent to the Oakwoods Nature Center, with interpretative signs to help with plant identification.
11.  Oakwoods Long Bark Trail (no dogs allowed) (3.1km)  A wooded trail, alongside the Huron River, with woods and wetlands.  The trail is adjacent to the Oakwoods Nature Center, with interpretative signs to help with plant identification.

Equestrian Trails (Hiking and Equestrian only)

12.  Oakwoods North Loop Trail (3.8km) From the horse staging area, this trail loops around the area north of the railroad tracks.  The wooded trail visits the scenic bluffs above the Huron River.
13.  Oakwoods South Loop Trail (2.8km) From the horse staging area, this trail loops around the area south of the railroad tracks.  The wooded trail visits the scenic bluffs above the Huron River.
14.  Oakwoods Big Loop Trail (5.2km) Encircling the entire equestrian area, this loop goes around the perimeter trails of the entire equestrian area.  The wooded trail visits the scenic bluffs above the Huron River.
15.  Oakwoods Long Loop Trail (7.6km) Designed for maximum length, this zig-zag trail hits all the features of the Equestrian area.  The route was designed for maximum distance and maximum variety of ecosystems without crossing over the same trail twice.  The wooded trail visits the scenic bluffs above the Huron River.

Return to the main Lower Huron Metropark page.

Return to the main Willow Metropark page.

Return to the main Oakwoods Metropark page.

This page is just a small part of the free Lower Huron/Willow/Oakwoods Metropark mobile app.

June 4, 2011 Posted by | | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment