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Best outdoor running destinations in Metro Detroit


  Photo by: Sara Kandel
  The paved path outside Metro Beach in Harrison Twp.

Metro Detroit's best destinations to run outdoors.

Once again it's almost over, but before the last of the sun-filled days are replaced with the biting cold of winter's sting take a hiatus from the gym and experience what's great about local outdoor running. 

City: For city dwellers and everyone else who is enchanted by the urban facade of Detroit, Riverwalk is a prime destination. Although the Detroit river front project is not complete, Riverwalk currently offers citizens one and one-half miles of paved pathway adjacent to the river that boasts views of the GM Renaissance Center and the Windsor skyline. The path starts at Joe Louis Arena and follows the river to Rivard St. The pathway picks back up less than a mile down the road at Jos. Campau and follows the riverfront for one and one-fourth miles to Mt. Elliot Park. This is a great place to jog in the summer when cool winds from the river fight the heat of the daytime sun.

Down River: Sterling State Park in Monroe is home to the Sterling-Marsh Trail, a six mile paved trail that encircles the marsh in a loop just shy of three miles. Despite the welcoming look of the dirt paths that veer of the paved trail joggers should probably avoid them. The term marsh signifies wetlands and unless sticky brown shoes are sought these paths should be left to hikers and cyclist. While on the Sterling-Marsh Trail runners can enjoy the abundance of wildlife — birds, butterflies, plant life, foliage and other wetland creatures. 

East side: Residents here enjoy easy access to a two-lane bike/blade/jog path that stretches down 16 Mile Rd for a few miles before entering Metro Beach and circling the park in a two-mile loop. The flat terrain is a straight shoot before the parks entrance.  A thin layer trees, flowers and other foliage separate the path from residential homes to the South and 16 Mile to the North. Once inside the park the scenery switches to small but picturesque harbors, tennis courts, play grounds and Lake Saint Clair. This is a great place to jog solo. Others on and around the path rarely do more then nod a passing hello.

West side: For fitness enthusiast living West of the city, Maybury State Park offers an assortment of trails to bike, jog and hike. The five trails located inside this state park vary in length from the four mile paved bike path to the 11-mile equestrian trail. There's also a ten mile cross country ski trail, a six mile hiking trail and a five mile mountain biking trail, all of which are better suited to runners than the equestrian trail where horses, especially those with inexperienced riders tend to spook easily. Maybury State Park offers an escape from city life, in its 1,000 acres it's easy to forget about the traffic jams and noise that so often mark daily life in the city and surrounding suburbs. 

North of the burbs: North of the burbs: Without contest the Wadhams to Avoca Trail is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful jogs in South East Michigan, especially in the fall when the leaves on the trees surrounding the trail turn bright oranges, yellows and deep reds. Jogging here may be difficult for photographers and artists with the temptation to stop and take in the lush surroundings. Trailheads can be found in both Wadhams and Avoca and lead to paved, gravel and dirt sections of the path that cross rural land following an old rail path into rolling hills and eventually over a 60 foot trestle bridge. Every runner, hiker, cyclist and nature enthusiast should make a point to visit this treasure before the season is over. 

Note: Please pick up after yourselves and your pets to keep these great places beautiful and the residents who live around them happy.


  • Karen 5 years ago

    Loved the Wadhams Trail. I recommend Paint Creek Trail too.

  • Andrea 5 years ago

    I loved to run the path by Metro Beach whenever I was visiting Detroit. Great article, Sara!