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Best long trail ride within 1-2 hours of Detroit

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Best long trail ride within 1-2 hours of Detroit

Old 06-01-20, 06:51 PM
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Momtagalong
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Best long trail ride within 1-2 hours of Detroit

Active 50+ Mom & Dad here visiting an active adult child in Detroit soon. We love to bike, hike, canoe, be in the outdoors doing versus watching! We have one day to do a bike ride but need some help on deciding the right trail. After doing some research online, we narrowed down two potential bike trails for us to spend a morning on: Macomb Orchard Trail or Pere Marquette Rail Trail. Does anyone have an opinion on which is the best? We will probably bike for 25ish miles, enjoy nature (birds, wildflowers, etc) and like to burn some energy as well.

Appreciate any insight!
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Old 06-02-20, 07:21 PM
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I am familiar with the Macomb Orchard Trail (MOT), but have never ridden the Pere Marquette trail. So I can only share my experience with the MOT, but there are also two other trails that intersect the MOT that might be worth considering. The Macomb Orchard trail is asphalt, quite smooth, and mostly straight. It's flat except for a freeway overpass. It follows a transmission tower corridor for a good portion of the trail as it cuts through farm fields, wetlands, and occasional sections where the trail right-of-way is forested. Richmond (at the east end of the trail) is a small, one (and a half?) stoplight town with a convenience store, a couple of restaurants, antique shop, and Pyro Joe's at the intersection with the traffic light.

Near the western end of the MOT, an option to head north about half a mile or so will bring you to Stony Creek Metropark. There's a loop road and multi-use path that circles the lake with a couple of modest rolling grades. If you pack a picnic lunch, you can take your break by the lake. At the western terminus of the MOC, you can cross the road (Dequindre) and join the Clinton River Trail (CRT) which follows the old rail bed along the Clinton River. The CRT is mostly crushed limestone with a section of recycled asphalt millings. It's a riparian environment with trees growing in the flood plain along the river. The city of Rochester (downtown has four stoplights) is a larger burg than Richmond on the MOT with multiple options for a cafe stop or lunch and a bike shop in town. The city of Rochester is about two miles west of the end of the MOT (and surrounded by dense, suburban development). From Rochester, the CRT trail goes west toward Pontiac, but doesn't quite make it there without adding a bypass route that follows the surface roads. Also in Rochester, there is a short connector trail (River Walk Trail; ~ 1 mile) that will become the Paint Creek Trail (PCT)-- another option that you could consider. The PCT goes north to the village of Lake Orion (10 miles one-way, I think). The village of Lake Orion is about the same size as Rochester with similar amenities. The PCT follows along the forested flood plain with bridges for crossing over the (occasionally) meandering creek. The trail surface is crushed limestone throughout and level.

All three of those trails are pretty popular on weekends, but trail traffic should be much lighter in the mornings. If I had to pick one of those for wildlife viewing, I'd probably go with the PCT, but the wildlife you're most likely to see are deer. The final option I'll mention is the portion of the Polly Ann Trail (PAT) northwest of Oxford (another six miles or so north of Lake Orion). That section of the PAT is a more decidedly rural stretch of trail that follows the old rail bed and is similarly graded. It cuts through forests and wetlands and passes farms and horse pasture with the trail user density being decidedly lower. There is some pretty good birding along the trail with a mating pair of trumpeter swans and a clutch of five cygnets in residence in one of the trailside wetland ponds (picture attached, taken last Sunday). In the swan's neighboring pond, there's a pretty good population of box turtles, too. The little village of Leonard is even smaller than Richmond (it's a four-way stop town), but its got a convenience store with some patio furniture set up outside to host tired-cyclists.

So, sorry I didn't answer your question directly, but those are the local-like, multi-use trails in the Detroit-area that I ride and am familiar with. Hopefully, there is something useful for you in my response. The stay-at-home order in Michigan is supposed to be lifted next Monday (June 8), so cafe options along the routes should increase, but that might depend on your personal risk assessments.

Cheers.

Photo taken from the trail.

Last edited by agnewton; 06-02-20 at 07:31 PM.
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Old 06-02-20, 07:32 PM
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agnewton covered that north east section really well.
Not far from Detroit and a little further west are Kennsington Metro Park (an 8 mile hilly loop) and that connects with Island Lake Rec Area. ILRA connects under a freeway to Kennsington.
Kennsington is all paved. Very scenic. The lake is nice.
ILRA is going to be more covered and has 2 MTB trails (loops) in addition to the single paved trail going end to end of the park.
There's a developing trail network heading north and east from both parks. I don't use those much.
Heading west out of Hamburg is the Lakeland trail. I use that occasionally. Eastern part is paved. It changes to a crushed gravel. Ends a bit after Stockbridge. There's some stops along the route, like Cap'in Frostys (make sure it's open before 4P, not sure). And Zuckey Lake Tavern (Zurkey Lake? not sure of the spelling)
If you're up for more of a challenge there's the DTE mountain bike trails north of Chelsea. And all the beautiful dirt roads through the Waterloo Rec Area.
You can't go wrong with any of the M.O.T. and all the connectors. That's a REALLY nice area.

I've been on Pere Marquette. It feels a lot more "out there". So if it's a first time recommendation, I'd go with MOT and CRT. Maybe I'll dig up a photo and post it.
cheers.
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Old 06-03-20, 07:44 AM
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Thank you for all of the information! And the picture! We may try to squeeze in 2 days of riding to fit it all in.
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Old 06-03-20, 07:46 AM
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Thank you! What a wonderful network of bike riders Michigan has!
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Old 06-05-20, 03:07 PM
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Well, there is a lot to do in Metro Detroit area. I personally love the empty gravel roads in northern oakland county. But here is what we have:
MOT - Machomb Orchard (Yellow). Not my favorite because it is so exposed, but its the only one paved. 23 miles one way. I'll only do this in the morning or on a cool day as the sun can get brutal.
Paint Creek (blue). Oldest and most popular. about 9 miles one way. Its nice, but a bit crowded. Does have Paint Creek Cider Mill half way (so I go there in the fall for cider and donuts).
Clinton River (green). The east half of this is along the clinton river and has a fair amount of trees and flowers, gets a little more barren on the west half. Still, Auburn Hills ice cream stands are a nice place to stop and refuel. ;-) Crushed asphalt, especially the farther west you go.
Polly Ann (orange). Being the farthest away from town, it is often empty. It is gorgeous East of M-24 (a little more suburban on the west side, but the lakes are nice). You can take this as far north as you want, although north of Leonard it isn't maintained and becomes single track and is best on 50mm+ tires (doable on 40mm+ tires).
West Bloomfield (purple). This one is a pretty trail, very well maintained and gets longer every year. Its a pretty area - but more suburban.

I didn't mark the trail through Utica - the "clinton river park" and "metro parkway" trail. They are paved, with the part going along the clinton river being slow (~10mph) twisty, tree lined, and beautiful.

Certainly, if you do the MOT, a detour around stoney creek is worth it. My wife wants to do that one tomorrow. We'll ride the clinton river trail, to MOT, and then cut up to do a lap around stoney creek.


Unless otherwise noted above, they are all crushed limestone, and do well with 32mm or larger tires. They all connect (except for West Bloomfield, although a connection is doable) if you want to mix and match.

Here is a picture.
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Old 06-05-20, 03:14 PM
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'course if you are really adventurous, I'll show you some beautiful dirt road routes in that area.
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Old 06-05-20, 04:58 PM
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Momtagalong
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This map is awesome! As well as the color commentary. If you have the time, I'd like to hear about the dirt road routes. We try to keep our visits interesting so our son doesn't get bored with us!
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Old 06-08-20, 09:38 AM
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Here are some variations that go through the parks in the area, using cut throughs, single track and nice hidden little places. You of course can Avoid the
The simplest route is to start at Stoney Creek Park, and ride north on Dequindre as far as you want (you can make this 100 miles if you so desire), and then cut across to the Polly Ann trail, then down to paint creek trail, and on back.
https://www.google.com/maps/dir/42.7...m1!3e1!5m1!1e3




If you are feeling adventurous, these routes have some hidden cut-throughs and little diversions, and include single track - although you can avoid the single track by just riding along the dirt roads that go by the parks.
https://www.strava.com/routes/11330945
https://www.strava.com/routes/12522531

I would recommend riding through and or taking a rest break at
Stoney Creek
Cranberry Lake Park and Historic district
Addison Oaks
Paint Creek Cider Mill.

Last edited by chas58; 06-08-20 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 06-08-20, 09:10 PM
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The loop route from chas58 is an excellent recommendation and should satisfy your request for dirt road riding. Some variation on that route was my ride this past weekend. A couple of points of interest on the route and near it (with pictures):

1.) Mt Vernon Road. The road starts in the lower right corner of the loop and runs north for two miles. At some point in time, this stretch was designated by some jurisdiction as a "Natural Beauty Road". It is pretty.


2.) The Windmill. It's off Hosner Rd. north of Oakwood (due west of Leonard). It's on private property (and privately owned), so maintain your distance.



3.) This handsome devil. Bigger than my bike helmet! He was trying to cross the Paint Creek Trail at 5:30p on a Sunday. He may have had to wait until sundown.



The roads that lie within the recommended loop are probably 85-90% county maintained dirt roads. Along those roads there are occasional washboards at intersections and potholes in a line, but plenty of room to pick a line and avoid those road features. The roads do provide some topographic variety with occasional short, punchy climbs (50-100 yards @ 6-9% grade) but much more commonly slow rises and falls (< 3%).

Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Here are some variations that go through the parks in the area, using cut throughs, single track and nice hidden little places. You of course can Avoid the
The simplest route is to start at Stoney Creek Park, and ride north on Dequindre as far as you want (you can make this 100 miles if you so desire), and then cut across to the Polly Ann trail, then down to paint creek trail, and on back.
https://www.google.com/maps/dir/42.7...m1!3e1!5m1!1e3




If you are feeling adventurous, these routes have some hidden cut-throughs and little diversions, and include single track - although you can avoid the single track by just riding along the dirt roads that go by the parks.
https://www.strava.com/routes/11330945
https://www.strava.com/routes/12522531

I would recommend riding through and or taking a rest break at
Stoney Creek
Cranberry Lake Park and Historic district
Addison Oaks
Paint Creek Cider Mill.
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Old 06-09-20, 06:14 PM
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You will make us look good to our son. Thank you!
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Old 06-09-20, 06:15 PM
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Thank you for the help and the pictures.
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Old 06-09-20, 07:05 PM
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I live near the Pere Marquette Rail Trail and ride it often. It is a nice flat trail, it connects to the Chippewa Nature Center trail. The trails in the nature are for walking only it is vary nice if you want to do some walking. There is a section of the Pere Marquette Rail Trail closed near Sanford but many people are riding it anyway. It is a long drive from Detroit for a 25 mile ride is the only bad thing.
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Old 06-12-20, 09:57 AM
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Definitely the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, easily my favorite trail in Michigan. I normally do the 60 out and back, with a stop at Cops and Donuts for a coffee and, of course, a donut. I used to stop at the depot restaurant in Coleman, but I think that is closed down now. And at mile marker 3, a stop for a pint or two at the brewery. The trail is smooth, mostly very flat, and makes for a nice outing.
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Old 08-15-20, 10:26 PM
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Trail that goes from Rochester thru Washington is under construction
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Old 08-17-20, 09:02 PM
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Recently I read a post written by BikeReviewsHub and I really like the idea that mountain biking is best for 1-2 hours. Now I go for mountain biking every day before going to work and on weekends I go for long rides on road bike. Both have their own kind of fun and joy.
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Old 08-17-20, 09:03 PM
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Thanks for sharing this beautiful picture
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Old 01-05-21, 09:29 PM
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Try Stoney Creek, Macomb Orchard Trail, and the Paint Creek Trail.
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Old 01-18-21, 09:54 AM
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endless supply of back roads!
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