It was another beautiful fall day in Michigan when I ventured to my next hiking destination. Wolcott Mill is part of the Huron-Clinton Metropark system. Located in Ray Township in north Macomb County, the 2,625-acre park has much to offer visitors. In addition to the amazing beauty of the colorful fall leaves, Wolcott Mill has a late 20th century working farm, historic mill, golf course, event facilities, equestrian trails, fishing opportunities, and nature trails.
I met up with a small group from my outdoor club for the hike. I’ve been trying to get more involved in the Meetup groups I joined years ago. It’s nice to participate in activities, such as hiking, with people who enjoy the outdoors too, plus I like meeting new friends. We met at Wolcott Mill’s Camp Rotary. This area offers a camping space for scout and youth groups, but also a large activity building and pavilion that are available for day/evening rental use.
From Camp Rotary’s parking lot, we crossed a wooden suspension bridge over the Clinton River to the woods and trails. A short hike led us to the historic Wolcott Mill, one of the few remaining grist mills in Michigan. Built in 1847, the mill was once known for producing high-quality flour. Many of the buildings are original, including the barn which now serves as a museum.
After exploring the mill area, our group set off for the trails. The individual nature trails aren’t very long (the Settler’s Trail is 2 miles) so we combined a few trails for a nice hike. We all kept ‘ooohing’ and ‘aaahing’ over the beautiful tree colors we encountered. The trails are well-groomed and easy to follow. There are wooden markers along the trails too. There is very little elevation gain. Some parts of the Settler’s Trail go along the river, which is very pretty. However, some areas have a drop off so use caution when hiking there, especially with young children.
The equestrian trails combine to form 10 miles. Use caution and respect if hiking with horses, please. While pedestrians have the right of way, you can still be courteous by not making loud or sudden movements around a horse (especially the rear end). As someone who has experience riding a horse on trails with an occasional walker, I thank you on behalf of riders for your thoughtfulness.
The 250-acre farm center provides another nice visitor spot. The dairy barn offers opportunities to watch the cows getting milked, a sheep barn houses sheep, goats and pigs, the chicken coop is home to many different small animals (chickens, ducks, rabbits, quail and more). The farm also includes a greenhouse, a barn that houses the draft horses, and a farmhouse that serves as the park office and a location of classrooms and exhibits.
Lots of activities occur throughout the year at the farm center – an annual sheep shearing event occurs in the spring, hay rides in the fall, holiday events, and more. Check the park’s website for event information and schedules.
I enjoyed visiting another great Michigan park and look forward to returning to hike and attend some events in the future. You can still catch the beautiful fall colors on the trees but hurry!
Wolcott Mill is located in Ray Township, Mich. There is a vehicle entrance fee (daily or annual pass). Check the hours before heading out.
What’s your favorite local park?