Exploration Guides

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

The Perfect Winter Trail

I was out hiking on Sunday at Proud Lake State Recreation Area.  The sun was out, and it wasn’t too windy, so, really, how could I not go out and do at least a little hiking, right?  We’ve had a total about about six feet of snow so far this winter, with nearly three feet of accumulation still on the ground.  Normally, that’d make for some rough hiking conditions, but not on Sunday.  Instead, through luck or planning, I don’t know, but the trails were nearly perfect.

proud lake snow trail 2-15-2014

The trails themselves were hard packed and smooth for a width of 12″ – 18″.  The surface was hard, but not icy at all.  Hard enough to walk on, but still smooth and boot-divot-free enough to also make for perfect cross-country ski trails.  Unlike normal cross-country ski trails, though, they didn’t have that annoying double ridge with the ankle-twisting canyon in the middle that so many of those trails tend to pick up.  I suspect it was the work of snowshoers.  Just don’t step off to the side.  There’s a couple feet of loose snow over there just off that packed down trail.

Although there’s still plenty of winter left, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us lovers of spring.  It’s warming up a bit, even above freezing here, and the days are getting noticeably longer.  Won’t be long before all that white is replaced with green.  Before that happens, though, don’t forget to check out icebergs on all the rivers and streams that’ll be melting soon.  Probably get some really nice, beautiful ice dams building up here and there, too, on the narrow spots and sharp turns in the rivers.

February 18, 2014 Posted by | Trail reports | , , , , , | Leave a Comment

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

Kensington Metropark Equestrian Area

The hidden trails at Kensington Metropark are the Equestrian Trails running around the northern and eastern edges of the park.  With a total of 26.6 km of trails, not counting the connected trails in Proud Lake State Recreation Area, this extensive network offers lots of options, all starting at the Equestrian Staging Area.

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

Return to the main Kensington Metropark page.

Return to the main Huron Clinton Metropark page.

February 15, 2012 Posted by | | , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Kensington Metropark Nature Area

In the western end of Kensington Metropark, you’ll find the nature area.  With a small nature center and over 14 km of nature trails through a variety of terrains, make sure you don’t miss this part of the park.

While you’ll find whitetail deer everywhere in the park, if you keep your eyes open, you may see wild turkey, great blue herons, river otters, and more.

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

Return to the main Kensington Metropark page.

Return to the main Huron Clinton Metropark page.

February 15, 2012 Posted by | | , , , , | Leave a Comment

Kensington Metropark Trails

I’ve been visiting Kensington Metroparks for years, hiking the nature trails behind the Nature Center, rollerblading on the paved trail around Kent Lake, and enjoying both.  Little did I know, I’d discovered less than half the total trails in the park.  They don’t really publicize it, but Kensington actually has 77 km of trails hidden away in the park.

Paved trails: There are just over 19 km of paved trails in the park.  Popular with walkers, bikers, and in-line skaters, there are few road crossings, allowing you to enjoy the trails without worrying about traffic.

  • Main Paved Loop Trail:  This 13.3 km paved trail circles Kent Lake.  Along the way, you’ll travel through a mix of open, mowed park, wooded forest, and lakeside trails.  There’s a few big hills on this trail, making it one of the most challenging paved trails around.  The south end of the loop includes a long, wooden boardwalk, which can be especially rough for in-line skaters.
  • Kensington-Milford Connector Trail: From the northeast corner of the Main Paved Loop Trail, the connector trail stretches around the northern end of Kent Lake and through the woods up to the northern park border 4.6 km away.  From there, you cross the road into the Milford trail network.  The trail is new, and there are some road crossings which are not paved on this trail.

Nature Trails: Just behind the Nature Center, the park’s nature trail network includes 14.2 km of wide, well-maintained, gravel trails around Wild Wing Lake, through wetlands, and various forest areas.  Arranged in numerous loops, the nature trails will let you see many of the ecosystems of southeast Michigan in a relatively small area.  Lucky visitors may also find themselves unexpectedly fact to face with deer, wild turkey, river otters, and more.  All Nature Center trails begin at the Nature Center.

  • Wild Wing Trail: Stretching around Wild Wing Lake, the southern-most loop trail is the best place to see river otters, and you’re almost certain to see herons.  This 2.9 km trail is mostly flat, except for one, large hill at the far, west end.
  • Deer Run Trail: The 2.6 km trail goes northeast from the Nature Center  through a mix of woods and across an ancient bog.
    • Deer Run Trail with Chickadee Loop: From the far end of the Deer Run Trail, you can add the Chickadee Loop.  One of the less-traveled trails in the nature area, you travel through woods and past a couple small ponds before returning to the Deer Run Trail
    • Deer Run Trail with Fox Loop: Adding the Fox Loop to the Deer Run Trail adds a couple small ponds, and a small stream to your hike, and brings the total hike up to 4.1 km.
  • Tamarack Loop: The short, 1 km Tamarack Trail travels through an ancient bog with tamarack trees, the only needle-bearing tree in the area that loses its needles in the winter.
  • Aspen Trail: The Aspen Trail travels across a wet area before going into the forest for a 2.2 km hike.
    • Aspen Trail with Pine Loop: Adding the Pine Loop to the Aspen Trail brings your total hike up to 2.8 km

Farm Trails: There are no “official” trail routes through the Farm Center, but you can access a lot of trails from here.  Sticking to just the Farm Center area, you’ll find 2.6 km of trails, but it also connects to the Paved Loop Trail, the West Equestrian Trail, and Ski Trail C.

Mountain Bike Trail: Mountain bikes are allowed only on paved trails, and on one trail extending out 3.5 km from the Equestrian Staging Area out the eastern end of the park, connecting to Proud Lake State Recreation Area.

Equestrian Trails: The 26.5 km of equestrian trails in the park are mostly unknown to park visitors.  Open to hikers, horses, and skiers, the trails pass through a variety of terrains.  All equestrian trails start at the Equestrian Staging Area, but are also accessible from other areas.

  • North Equestrian Trail: The 5.8 km North Equestrian Trail leaves the Equestrian Staging Area from the back of the parking area and passes through the Group Camp before making a large loop through wooded terrain.  Don’t forget to take a look for ruins at the north end of the loop.
  • East Equestrian Trail: The East Equestrian Trail stretches 5.6 km (one way) from the Equestrian Staging Area through the woods to Proud Lake State Recreation Area, which it connects to the extensive trail network in that park.
  • West Equestrian Trail: This 14.5 km loop runs through forest and grasslands from the Equestrian Staging Area along the Huron River, behind the Farm Center, before looping around just north of the Nature Area and returning to the Staging area.
  • South Equestrian Trail: The 17.4 km (round trip) South Equestrian Trail is an out and back trail through the woods east of the main park road, heading south, passing by the Disc Golf course down to I-96 before returning to the parking area.

Ski Trails: Kensington’s cross-country ski trails are both poorly marked and ungroomed.  Don’t let that discourage you, though, as all mowed areas, all equestrian trails, and the golf course are all open to cross country skiers.  With a mix of wide open fields and wooded trails, relatively flat areas and steep hills, there’s something here for every skill level.  Trail markings are limited, so it’s sometimes easiest to simply follow the tracks of other skiers.  All three of the loops below are interconnected, allowing you to have nearly any distance you want.  Want more?  Extend your ski trip beyond Ski Trail A to the Golf Course or, from Ski Trail B or C, go onto the West Equestrian Trail.

  • Ski Trail A: 2.5 km loop east of the nature area.
  • Ski Trail B: 2.7 km loop in the middle of the ski area.
  • Ski Trail C: 4.7 km loop around the Farm Center.


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

Return to the main Kensington Metropark page.

Return to the main Huron Clinton Metropark page.

February 15, 2012 Posted by | | , , , , | Leave a Comment

Kensington Metropark History

Kensington Metropark is full of history, although sometimes you might have to look around a bit to see it.

Certainly the most visible history at Kensington is the Farm Center, on the north side of Kent Lake.  At more than 150 years old, the barn, and (newer) adjacent buildings give you the opportunity to see how crops and livestock are raised, as well as some of the antique equipment which has been used for decades, or longer, to harvest those crops.

Behind the Nature Center, you can find a few of the remains of the village of Kensington.  With ruins of at least two houses, plus various other equipment, fences, and more spread throughout the area, you never know what you’ll find if you just keep your eyes open.

And no matter where you go in the park, on the trails or off, you’ll find sections of fencing still in place, and other artifacts, left when the park changed from residential and farmland to the park we enjoy today.

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

Return to the main Kensington Metropark page.

Return to the main Huron Clinton Metropark page.

February 15, 2012 Posted by | | , , , , , , | Leave a Comment