I was pleasantly surprised to find what I consider a hidden gem of a hiking trail right here in my local region of Southeast Michigan. This gem is called Inwood Rustic Trails, and they’re part of Stony Creek Metropark.
Usually when people think of hiking in Michigan, it’s all about the Upper Peninsula and the northern half of the Lower Peninsula (or just “Up North” as we Michiganders like to say). Truthfully, it’s hard to beat some of the incredible views that those places offer, but this Metropark trail delivers!
A Diamond in the Rough in Metro Detroit
Out of all the parks and trails I’ve checked in the Metro Detroit region, the Inwood Rustic Trails are my favorite by far! Located in Washington Township, the park is far enough outside the city limits, which helps preserve its natural appeal.
At the same time, the location isn’t much more than an hour drive from the furthest points in Metro Detroit. So, whether you’re an experienced hiking enthusiast or just looking to spend an afternoon in nature to unwind, this park is a must-see for both locals and visitors alike!
Best Time to Visit the Inwood Rustic Trails
Personally, my favorite time to hike is in the fall. The incredible color changes in the trees at Stony Creek Metropark add so much to the natural beauty of any hike! However, the park and trail offer beautiful scenery all year long.
I chose a bright and sunny, yet crisp and cool, fall morning to explore the trails. And, I was able to go on a weekday, so there were naturally fewer people to share the space with. This made for a very peaceful and relaxing experience overall.
What to Expect on Your Hike
The Inwood Rustic Trails are about 7.35 miles long and have different routes that take you through a variety of unique terrain. Here, you’ll find a beautiful range of wetlands, fields, and forests to traverse. I highly recommend some good hiking boots because a decent portion of the trail is marshy.
The Trail Begins
The beginning of the trail starts out pretty open, as it’s part of an old two-track that was used for logging years ago. Further along, though, it begins to shrink up in size, looking more like a traditional hiking trail.
There isn’t much for vertical slopes on these rustic trails. However, there are some minor elevation changes, which make for some nice views along the way.
Each portion of the trail is pretty well marked too. I didn’t have any trouble finding my way or making sure I was on the right path. Also, you’ll see trail markers at incremental points throughout the hike, and each one has a trail map as well.
A Nearby Shooting Range
The only real downside I found while exploring the Inwood Rustic Trails is the shooting range that’s pretty close to the park. It definitely didn’t ruin my hike, but early on I did hear the sound of guns going off for a little bit.
The further into the hike that I got, the harder it was for me to hear any noise coming from the range. Eventually, I couldn’t hear it at all.
If you have small children or pets that are sensitive to loud noise, I suggest parking at the lot that’s further east on Inwood Road. The shooting range is on the west side of the park, so this would ensure the sounds are minimal, if not impossible, to hear.
Visiting the Lake, Streams, & Ponds
If you want to make it all the way out to Inwood Lake, it’s about a 3.5-mile walk if you take the Orange Trail. If you want to see some of the other streams and ponds in the park, though, you can take the much shorter Pink Trail loop, which has some nice views.
My Favorite Things About the Inwood Rustic Trails
I absolutely loved the variety of landscapes here. Each section of the trail went from fields to wetlands to woods and then back to fields again.
The Swampy Marshland
One of my favorite parts was an area with a small bridge going through a swampy marshland. There’s a point on the bridge where you cross over a small creek, and it’s a perfect spot for pictures!
On hikes, I love to keep an eye out for cool spots that are off the trail. The Inwood Rustic Trails have no shortage of places like that! As I continued down the main trails, I found several areas with creeks and marshlands that I just couldn’t help but explore.
The Serenity of Inwood Lake
At about the furthest point in the trail from the parking area, you’ll come across Inwood Lake. Although it’s quite small in comparison to many of the other lakes here in the area, it’s still a beautiful view and well worth the hike.
Because Inwood Lake is pretty far from any roads or housing developments, all you can hear is the sound of the wind and wildlife. If you wanted to bring some lunch and set up for a picnic, this would be one of the best places to do so!
I even came across a cool place to relax on my journey (shown in the image below)! This spot would be perfect for a picnic. Keep in mind that camping is illegal in the park, but if you just want to relax, rest your legs, and enjoy nature for the afternoon, this would be a great place to do so!
A Variety of Wildlife on the Rustic Trails
About halfway through the hike, I heard a loud crash in the woods next to me. Just seconds later, a deer came barreling out of the woods and crossed right in front of me! Sadly, my camera wasn’t out at the time, but I was sure to keep it ready for the rest of my hike.
There’s actually quite a variety of wildlife here to keep an eye out for. On your adventure, you might see large mammals like deer, foxes, and coyotes (don’t worry, coyotes and foxes are more afraid of us than we are of them!).
You might also come across hawks, eagles, ducks, and geese. There’s even a variety of smaller critters in the area like skunks, opossums, and raccoons.
The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
Although sightings are rare, the area around the Inwood Rustic Trails is a protected habitat for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. This is an endangered species, but people have reported seeing this snake around Stony Creek Metropark.
These snakes are relatively small in size — about 2 feet in length — but they have thick bodies and heart-shaped heads. They’re gray or light brown with large light-brown spots on their backs and sides. Younger snakes have the same markings but are more vivid in color.
If you happen to come across an Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, keep your distance and report the sighting to the local DNR office. The phone number for the wildlife division for Southeast Michigan is (313) 396-6890.
Take Another Adventure in Metro Detroit
While hiking the Inwood Rustic Trails is a fantastic activity, there are a lot of other fall things to do in Metro Detroit too. You could check out the pumpkin patches in Metro Detroit or the many apple orchards and cider mills in Southeast Michigan.