Escaping city life to play at Stony Creek Metropark
Hard to believe, and even harder to admit, but Justin and I finally went on our first hike of the year over the weekend to Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township. For years I participated in or taught a backpacking class so was on the trails after the first spring thaw (my titanium knee/femur prohibits hiking in snow/ice). This spring seemed to slip by me, between work, Justin’s graduation, yard work, biking, Tigers games, and gatherings with family and friends. So I haven’t exactly been sitting on my butt! I miss hiking so was determined to get out on the trails. Even better my husband joined me.
It felt great to get outside at Stony Creek. It’s one of my favorite metroparks, only 30-40 minutes from us. There is so much to do. It is part of Huron-Clinton Metropark system, which includes 13 parks. Stony Creek is 4,461 acres with the 500-acre Stony Creek Lake as the central point. The park cuts through both north Macomb and Oakland Counties and offers a variety of fun activities for visitors to enjoy. It’s a very scenic park, making me feel like we’re escaping city life for a while.
Fishing with a permit is allowed in Stony Creek Lake (supposedly the state crappie record was set here). There is a great paved trail that circumvents the lake, welcoming biking, walking, running, and roller blading. There is also a great beach to play, plus an 18-hole golf course, disc golf, fitness trail, nature center, several picnic areas, mountain bike skills course and much more. You can rent bikes, canoes and kayaks. Winter activities are plentiful too, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding. There is truly something for everyone and it’s a perfect place for families, events, reunions and just hanging out on a Sunday morning with the newspaper.
I usually visit Stony Creek to go on the hiking trails or bike the paved route around the lake (6.1 miles with some deceiving hills). The hiking trails are usually well-groomed and best of all, there are several options. Near the nature center, six miles of trails give you a good opportunity for bird and wildlife-viewing. The hiking trails shared with the mountain biking trails are near the West Branch picnic entrance, providing approximately 14 miles of wooded, hilly dirt trails. You can hike to the highest point in Macomb County and see views of downtown Detroit on a clear day. Since these trails are shared between hikers and bikers, it’s important to be respectful of each other and call out so others see you (we were almost hit twice on Saturday because a biker didn’t give us any warning he was coming up behind us. I usually check behind me every so often but he didn’t call out at all!). Hikers/pedestrians have the right of way and don’t have to follow directional arrows like bikers do but you should still be smart and thoughtful so we can all share the trails.
Two hiking trails I haven’t yet tried are the Inwood Trails and new Trolley Trails. The Inwood trails are rustic, primitive foot-only paths with
hills, minor obstacles and possible wet or muddy areas located in the northern section of the park. The Trolley Trails are across from Eastwood Beach, near the mountain bike skills course, and were part of an old interurban light rail system created in the early 1900’s. These multi-use trails can be used by bikers and hikers. I definitely plan to check out both trail systems this summer.
My only pet peeve about Stony Creek is there are sometimes mountain bike races on the shared hiking trails (at West Branch picnic area). Often times, the trails will be diverted or once some were closed to hikers and non-race bikers. What bugs me about this is you’re not forewarned when passing the gates or entrance booths, and sometimes there isn’t even a sign on the entrance to the hiking trails so you’re hiking along and suddenly bikes whiz by you! I pay my entrance fee so have as much right as the biker to be on the trail. I don’t mind the bikers but hiking during “normal biking hours” is much different from hiking during a race. I do wish the park management would get better about promoting these races (and yes, I’ve contacted them about this concern).
If you’re looking for a local escape from the city, whether with family, friends or just yourself, check out Stony Creek. There are so many activities to participate in, at such an affordable cost. You’re sure to find something to do and enjoy the outdoors!
A metropark vehicle pass is required for entry (and gives you access to all 13 metroparks). It is $25 for the year. Otherwise daily pass is $5. Senior discounts are available. This metropark pass is different from the $10 recreation pass that you can purchase when renewing your vehicle registration at Secretary of State (for entry into state parks).