With a perfect fall weekend on tap, now’s the time to take a hike or two and explore some of Metro Detroit’s most beautiful state recreation areas and metro parks.
One of my favorite hikes is the Crooked Lake Trail at Pinckney State Recreation Area. The 5-mile trail cuts along the edge of Silver Lake before swinging deep into the woods. The 11,000-acre park offers the most “up north” experience, that is, heavily wooded and sometimes rugged terrain, in southeastern Michigan. A bench marks a high point above Crooked Lake – though there is no real view this time of the year. On a recent Sunday hike my friend John and I passed only a few mountain bikers (they travel in the opposite direction) and encountered no other hikers.
If you’re up for something a little longer, check out the Yellow Loop at Island Lake Recreation Area east of Brighton. The 6-mile trail offers nearly a similar “up north” experience as it loops around the Huron River. Beware of mountain bikers (also traveling in the opposite direction). The park offers plenty of scenic picnic spots for relaxation afterward. And not too far down the road in South Lyon is Erwin Orchards, a perfect place to relax with cider and donuts after a walk in the woods.
Northwest of Pontiac, the Woodland Trail at Indian Springs Metropark winds through the Huron Swamp and dense woods. A short spur leads to a deck overlooking secluded Timberland Lake. The woods are especially colorful in the fall with the leaves of towering oaks and maples turning red, orange and yellow. The 3.5-mile trail begins and ends at the nature center.