Each hike features an individual trail map, elevation profile, and at-a-glance information, helping readers quickly find the perfect trip. Sized to fit in a pocket, the book's detailed trail descriptions will help readers find their way on and off the trail. Driving directions and GPS trailhead coordinates will help with navigating the myriad of unnamed roads. The trails covered range from those best suited to the novice, families, experienced hikers, or backpackers.
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Scenery: 5 stars
Trail Condition: 5 stars
Children: 5 stars
Difficulty: 1 star
Solitude: 1 star
GPS TRAILHEAD COORDINATES: N42° 19.541' W83° 3.166'
DISTANCE & CONFIGURATION: 2-mile out-and-back
HIKING TIME: About 1 hour or less
HIGHLIGHTS: Detroit River; skyline views of Windsor, Ontario, Canada; Hart Plaza; General Motors global headquarters
ELEVATION: 583 feet at trailhead, with no significant rise
ACCESS: Daily, 6 a.m.–10 p.m.; no fees or permits required
MAPS: at detroitriverfront.org
FACILITIES: Restrooms (seasonal), picnic areas, bike rentals, café
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
COMMENTS: The path can be very crowded during lunchtime and summer evenings. Watch out for bicyclists.
CONTACTS: 313-566-8200; detroitriverfront.org
One of the newest developments in downtown, the Detroit RiverWalk opens up a vast stretch of the riverfront to the public. The well-maintained path offers panoramic views of the scenic Detroit River and the Windsor skyline, and it passes directly by the General Motors global headquarters at the Renaissance Center.
Strolling along the Detroit RiverWalk, you may find it hard to believe that the city didn’t realize until very recently what a jewel the turquoise-shaded river is. Once home to industrial plants, silos, and other buildings, much of the riverfront is being converted into promenades, parks, and public spaces.
The crown jewel, of course, is the Detroit RiverWalk, an expansive walkway that runs along the river and will eventually stretch 5.5 miles from the Ambassador Bridge on the city’s western edge to Belle Isle, an island park on the east.
More than half of the walk has been completed, though portions remain separated by vacant remnants of the past. The best bet is to start the Detroit RiverWalk at its western edge near Joe Louis Arena, and you can park along the street running next to the stadium. The promenade parallels the Detroit River with separate lanes for walkers, hikers, bicyclists, and inline skaters. Expect to find plenty of people crowding the promenade during the warmer months, as well as fishermen lined along the rails, casting their nets into the fast-moving river.
Heading east along the riverfront, the promenade passes below Philip A. Hart Plaza, an open, mostly hard-surfaced park. This is the approximate landing site of Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who in 1701 founded the settlement that eventually became Detroit. Today the park is the site of festivals throughout the summer and is noteworthy for several sculptures, including a statue of Cadillac, as well as the Horace E. Dodge and Son Memorial Fountain, designed by Isamu Noguchi.
The Renaissance Center, the global home of General Motors, will catch your attention as you continue east. You’ll find plenty of people sitting along the concrete steps leading up to the Winter Garden, and in the summer months, diners enjoy their meals at the outdoor patio at Andiamo, a well-known Detroit restaurant. The tallest and central tower is home to the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The surrounding four towers are occupied by GM and other automotive-related companies.
The promenade continues to Rivard Plaza, home to a Great Lakes–themed carousel, a water-jet fountain and pool, a map of the Detroit River system (made of granite), and a vertical glass map of the entire St. Lawrence Seaway. Walkers also will find a bike rental store, a concession stand selling Michigan-inspired fare, and restroom facilities. There are plenty of tables and chairs for outdoor dining.
At the plaza’s eastern edge is William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, formerly known as Tricentennial State Park, Michigan’s only state park in an urban area. The 31-acre park contains a marina, and a 63-foot conical lighthouse marks the entrance. Retrace your steps along the river back to the starting point.
If you’re more adventurous and wish to extend your walk beyond the state park, continue walking along Atwater Street. Although this stretch veers from the riverfront, it is part of the RiverWalk. You’ll pass the southern entrance of the Dequindre Cut Greenway as you head due east. The RiverWalk, however, officially endsfor nowat Chene Street, beyond the entrance of Chene Park. To reach the next completed stretch of the RiverWalk, continue walking another block or so along Atwater Street to Joseph Campau Street. Turn right and head past the gatehouse to the riverfront. The promenade continues past Stroh River Place, the former Omni hotel, and the United Auto Workers–General Motors offices to Mount Elliott Park. Adding this stretch creates about a 3.5-mile one-way trek from the beginning point at Joe Louis Arena.
GM’s Winter Garden offers restaurants, shops, and other services. Coach Insignia, the restaurant atop the RenCen, is open in the evenings for dinner. The restaurant offers a panoramic view of the city, the river, and neighboring Windsor, Ontario. The glass elevator to the 72nd floor runs up the outside of the structure. It’s about a 0.5-mile walk from Hart Plaza to the city’s new center, Campus Martius, which features a small park with an outdoor café. In the summer, there are concerts, and in the winter, the grassy area is turned into an ice-skating rink.
From downtown, the RiverWalk is accessible from Hart Plaza right off Jefferson Avenue on the riverfront. To walk from one end to the other, start at either Rivard Plaza on the eastern end or at Joe Louis Arena on the west end. Heading east on Jefferson from Woodward Avenue, past the Renaissance Center, turn right onto Rivard Street. Turn left onto Atwater Street. A parking lot will be on your right. To reach the entrance near Joe Louis, head west on Jefferson Avenue and drive past the Renaissance Center, Hart Plaza, Cobo Center, and Joe Louis Arena. Third Street is immediately after Joe Louis. Turn left on Third Street. Parking is available along Third Street and Steve Yzerman Drive, a service drive to Joe Louis that runs parallel to the river.
From Ann Arbor, take US 23 north/M-14 east to Plymouth. M-14 becomes I-96. Continue about 20 miles on eastbound I-96 toward Detroit. Follow signs for M-10/Civic-Cobo Center. Merge onto M-10 and continue toward Civic Center/Cobo Center. Take Exit 1A, West Jefferson Avenue. Go straight, crossing Jefferson onto Third Street. Parking is available along Third Street and Steve Yzerman Drive, the service drive to Joe Louis and Cobo Center.
Table of ContentsOverview Map
Overview Map Key
1. Dequindre Cut Greenway
2. Detroit RiverWalk
3. Gallup Park Loop and Spur
4. Matthaei Botanical Gardens: Fleming Creek and Dix Pond Trails
5. Matthaei Botanical Gardens: Fleming Creek, Marilyn Bland Prairie, and Sam Graham Trees Trails
6. University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum Trails
West of Ann Arbor
7. Hudson Mills Metropark: Acorn Nature Trail
8. Pinckney State Recreation Area: Crooked Lake Trail
9. Pinckney State Recreation Area: Losee Lake Trail
10. Pinckney State Recreation Area: Silver Lake Trail
11. Waterloo State Recreation Area: Hickory Hills Trail
12. Brighton State Recreation Area: Kahchin Trail
13. Brighton State Recreation Area: Penosha Trail
14. Island Lake State Recreation Area: Blue Loop
15. Island Lake State Recreation Area: Yellow Loop
16. Kensington Metropark: Deer Run, Fox, and Chickadee Trails
17. Kensington Metropark: Wildwing Trail
18. Lakelands Trail State Park
19. Proud Lake State Recreation Area: River Trail
North of Detroit
20. Bald Mountain State Recreation Area: North Unit Trails
21. Bald Mountain State Recreation Area: Red Trail
22. Heritage Parks River Trail
23. Lloyd A. Stage Nature Center Loops
24. Orchard Lake Nature Sanctuary
25. West Bloomfield Trail
26. West Bloomfield Woods Nature Preserve
27. Woodland Hills
Northwest of Detroit
28. Holly State Recreation Area: Lakeshore Trail
29. Holly State Recreation Area: Wilderness Trail
30. Indian Springs Metropark: Woodland and Timberland Lake Trails
31. Ortonville State Recreation Area: Hiking-Mountain Bike Trail
32. Pontiac Lake State Recreation Area: Campground to Beach Trail
Northeast of Detroit
33. Paint Creek Trail
34. Seven Ponds Nature Center Loops
35. Stony Creek Metropark: East Lake Trails
36. Wolcott Mill Metropark: Settler’s Trail
Appendixes & Index
Appendix A: Outdoor Retailers
Appendix B: Places to Buy Maps
Appendix C: Hiking Clubs
About the Author