Exploration Guides

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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

Seven Lakes State Park Trails

Seven Lakes State Park is home to around 17km of trail, with most of the trails circling the two main lakes, Big Seven Lake and Dickinson Lake.  Hikers are allowed on (and off) all trails, and mountain bikes are also allowed on all the main trails.  Dogs (on leash) are allowed everywhere, but no horses are allowed on the trails.

DANGER: There is a healthy massasauga rattlesnake population in the park.  Normally, they’ll do everything possible to get away from you, but it’s best to keep an eye on dogs and children, to avoid problems, and if you do leave the main trail, keep a close eye on the ground to avoid unwanted encounters.

Note: Trails at the south end of Dickinson Lake are prone to flooding.  Also, the fen areas, like all fen areas, are generally especially wet, with deep muck and quicksand.

Trails:

  1. Big Seven Lake Loop Trail (5.5km).  The Big Seven Loop Trail circumnavigates Big Seven Lake.  The trail is mostly flat, like most of the trails in this park, and generally clear and well-established.  One piece of trail, at the south end of Big Seven Lake, may be flooded out in the spring or after heavy rains.
  2. The Fen Trails (2km round trip).  Parking at the Dickinson Lake boat launch, you can follow the lake around to a pair of fens, one in a lowland and another on the shores of a small lake.  Due to budget cuts, The Fen Trails are no longer maintained by the park, so there is some overgrowth.  Be sure to watch your step, as the fens include deep muck and quicksand, although both can be safely avoided, if you pay attention.  Also, be sure to avoid stepping on any of the rare, carnivorous, pitcher plants.  The lakeside fen is just off a long, narrow peninsula (or isthmus, if the water’s low enough) nicknamed Crazy Beaver Peninsula.  Check out the trees along the trail, which show signs of heavy beaver activity.  While some have been felled, others, in some cases some very, very large ones, have been chewed in a couple inches all the way around before the beaver moved on.
  3. Green Trail Loop (3km).  At three km, the green trail crosses between Big Seven and Dickinson lakes, then heads to the hilly area in the north part of the park.  One of the rare, dry trails in the park, flooding is uncommon on this trail.  In amongst the wooded hills in the northern part of the park, many small spring ponds are home to frogs and other wildlife before they dry later in the year.
  4. Red Trail (7km round trip). This trail travels from Big Seven Beach around the north end of Big Seven Lake over to the Dickinson Lake boat launch parking lot.  Unless you suspect flooding, you can probably have a better hike by continuing around Big Seven Lake using the Big Seven Lake Loop Trail (#1 above).
  5. Nature Trail (1km).  All trails in this park are nature trails, but this one gets the name mostly due to being adjacent to the Sand Lake campground.  It’s actually a small loop in the larger trail network.
  6. Dickinson Lake Loop Trail (4km).  The Dickinson Lake Loop Trail is one of the nicer, more varied trails in the park.  Unfortunately, it’s no longer maintained by the park, so there is some overgrowth.  The trail circumnavigates Dickinson Lake, passing through one of the larger fens, and through some of the hilly areas surrounding this lake.  Note: Once trail maintenance stopped, residents living adjacent to the park began clearing and mowing into the park, so some parts of the trail at the far southeast of the lake appear to end in people’s back yards.  Do not be deterred from hiking these trails by this. The entrance to get back to the trail can be a little tricky to find, but using the app, you will walk right to it.  Also, in at least one case, one adjacent property owner even placed private property signs inside the park to deter hikers.  The trail passes through only public, state-owned land, and the Exploration Guides app is an accurate, surveyed map of this trail.  If you do encounter any problems with adjacent landowners, please immediately contact a park ranger and/or local police.  At the time of this writing, we are not aware of any incidents, so again, do not let some mowed grass deter you from going on this great hike.

Return to the main Seven Lakes State Park page.

This page is just a small part of the Seven Lakes State Park app.

June 1, 2011 Posted by | | , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Seven Lakes State Park

Seven Lakes State Park is located north of Pontiac Michigan, just east of the Dauner Martin Nature Sanctuary.  Home to around 17km of trails encircling two, main lakes (and many smaller ones), Seven Lakes State Park is also home to a number of uncommon fens, a large massasauga rattlesnake population, and the closest thing we get to a waterfall in southeast Michigan.  The two main lakes, Big Seven and Dickenson, both have boat launches, and are undeveloped, aside from the launches, and the beach on man-made Big Seven Lake.  A developed campground is available at Sand Lake.

Visit the official Seven Lakes State Park page.

This page is just a small part of the Seven Lakes State Park mobile app.

June 1, 2011 Posted by | | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Pinckney State Recreation Area Yurt

Pinckney State Recreation Area has joined with many other parks around the world in building a rental yurt.

Many people are unfamiliar with yurts, but they are growing more common as backcountry and semi-backcountry rental units.  The yurt is a round structure, with a raised, wooden floor and fabric walls and roof – sort of a half-cabin/half-tent.

Located on the channel between Half Moon and Highland Lakes, along the “Shortcut” trail, the yurt is available for rental.  It is accessible both by foot and by boat.  Parking is also available nearby, so only a short walk is strictly necessary to get to the yurt, or make it an overnight stop on your hike or canoe/kayak trip through the chain of lakes.

March 18, 2011 Posted by | | , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Hudson Mills Trails

For such a small park, there is a surprising amount of trail located within Hudson Mills Metropark.  With just over 15 km of trails, or nearly 10 miles, it’s a great park to visit for a relaxing hike, bike ride, or in-line skate in the summer, or cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter.  Most of the trails are paved, except for some nature trails behind the Activity Center.  Bikes are allowed only on paved trails, and dogs are allowed almost everywhere in the park, except on the unpaved trails directly behind the Activity Center.

Suggested Trails

  1. Paved Trails: 8.1 km (5 miles) of paved trails are located within the park, on both sides of the Huron River.
  2. Unpaved Trails: A network of 7.0 km (4.4 miles) of unpaved trails within the central part of the park are great for wandering through woods and wetlands.
  3. The East Trail Loop is a paved 4.5 km (2.8 mile) trail is popular with bikers, walkers, and in-line skaters year-round.
  4. The West Trail is a paved 3.2 km (2 mile) out and back trail (6.4 km, 4 mile, round trip) past the rapids and along the western side of the river.  Be sure to take the quick side-trip to visit the mill ruins along the way.  Combining this trail with the East Trail Loop will give you a 11.9 km (6.8 mile) trip.

Trail etiquette

The unpaved trails in Hudson Mills Metropark are for foot-traffic only.  Bikes and in-line skates are not allowed.

On the paved trails:

  • Stay to your right
  • Pedestrians have the right of way over everyone.
  • In-line skaters have right of way over bikes.  Be aware, however, they generally can not go into the grass without falling.
  • Bikes must yield the right of way to all other trail users.  Also, there is a 16 km/h (10 mph) speed limit for bikes on all metropark trails.
  • If you stop on a trail, for any reason, please step off the trail to the right, if possible.  <b>Do not block the trail!</b>
  • When overtaking others on the trail, please let them know you’re coming.  Traditionally, this is done with either a bike bell or by calling out, “Passing on the left” or just “On your left.”

Return to the main park page.

This page is a part of the Hudson Mills Metropark App.

March 12, 2011 Posted by | | , , , , , , | Leave a Comment