There are many hidden gems scattered throughout the southeast area of Michigan to explore but there is one park system that my family and I return to over and over again. The Huron-Clinton Metroparks system is made up of 13 different parks to enjoy and explore all year-round.
I became an ambassador of the parks more than a year ago and it motivated me to try to spend as much time outdoors checking out these amazing parks and all the offerings they have.
What continually draws us back to these parks is the impeccable maintenance of their facilities, paired with a huge range of opportunities for outdoor recreation such as boating, golfing, hiking, fishing, and more.
Selecting a favorite among the Huron-Clinton Metroparks is a challenge, but let me shine a spotlight on a few that have become cherished havens for our family. If you’re considering embarking on your own adventure, these 5 parks are absolute must-visits.
Kensington Metropark is one of our favorite parks in Michigan to visit all year long.
In the fall you can find us taking in hikes along the Chickadee Trail. There are playgrounds throughout the park that we enjoy in both the warm and cooler months. When we need a reprieve from the winter weather we enjoy the park’s farm and nature centers.
In the summer you’ll find us playing at the playgrounds that line the beach and cooling off at the park’s Splash n’ Blast. Kent Lake provides opportunities for families to enjoy time together on the water with activities like paddle boating, kayaking, swimming, or fishing.
There are so many opportunities for education throughout the whole park whether it’s on a nature hike or by signing up for one of their programs.
Indian Springs Metropark
While we visit Indian Springs Metropark most often for its extensive trail system that my children really love, it’s truly the Environmental Discovery Center that keeps us coming back over and over again. The underwater pond dome is a highlight for our visit and we love going down below to search for pond life.
In the summer months we pack up our swimsuits, pack a lunch and enjoy the spray and play area and a picnic. In the winter months you can participate in many outdoor activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Wolcott Mill Metropark
Wolcott Mill Metropark is home to the Wolcott Mill Historic Center, which includes a grist mill, a farmhouse, and a barn, providing visitors with a glimpse into Michigan’s rural past.
We love visiting the barn and walking the grounds to see the animals and my children request the “farm playground” over and over again.
Lower Huron Metropark
Lower Huron Metropark is far and away my children’s most requested park they want to visit over and over again.
During the summer months you can find us here at least once a week enjoying the incredible space-themed playground or spending a day at the Turtle Cove Aquatic Center which is complete with water slides, a lazy river, zero-depth entry pool, and splash pad area that ensures the whole family stays cool and entertained.
Stony Creek Metropark
In the fall you’ll find me enjoying a hike at Stony Creek Metropark Trolley Trail. There is nothing more serene for me than finding a stretch of tall pines to take in as I enjoy nature.
In the summer you’ll find my oldest grabbing an all day wristband and going down the Quadzilla slide over and over again and as a family we enjoy the beach and playground of the park. Here you can find boat and bike rentals as well.
Preparing for your visit
When planning a visit to one of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, here are a few things to consider:
Park-Specific Information: Each Metropark is unique, offering different amenities, activities, and natural features. Check the specific details of the park you plan to visit, including trail maps, facilities, and any seasonal events or programs.
Entrance Fees: The Huron-Clinton Metroparks have entrance fees, that are charged per vehicle. Make sure to check the current fees and payment methods accepted, which may vary between parks. Our family enjoys the Metroparks so much that an annual vehicle pass would make sense for us. You can purchase the pass at the toll booth entrance, park offices, or over the phone.
Hours of Operation: Make note of the park’s operating hours, as they may vary depending on the season. Some facilities or activities might have specific hours of operation as well. We often will enjoy a hike or the playground before checking out a nature center since they open later than the park itself does.
Check the Weather: We all know that Michigan weather can be unpredictable. Make sure to check the weather forecast before your visit and dress accordingly. I have found that the Metroparks are great about posting any closures on their website and social media channels so if you are heading out and not sure, I would check there to be certain there are no unexpected closures. Bring sunscreen, hats, and appropriate clothing for outdoor activities. Whether I plan on spending time at the water or not I always bring an extra swimsuit and towel for each of the kids because somehow we always end up finding our way to the water.
Trail Etiquette: If you plan to hike or bike, familiarize yourself with trail rules and etiquette. Make sure to stay on designated paths, yield to others, and be mindful of any posted guidelines. My children have learned these rules from an early age and happily follow the guidelines while we are out on a hike. This makes for an enjoyable visit for everyone and keeps the trails well maintained for everyone.
Pets: Some Metroparks allow pets, while others have restrictions. Before bringing your pet you will want to review the park’s pet policy.
Picnicking and Camping: If you’re planning a picnic or camping trip, inquire about available facilities and any reservation requirements. Some areas may have designated picnic areas, and camping may require advance reservations. One of our favorite things to do in the spring and summer is to pack a lunch and visit the parks.
Seasonal Activities: Huron-Clinton Metroparks offer various activities throughout the year, such as winter sports, birdwatching, and nature programs. Check the park’s calendar for any seasonal events or activities. Keep in mind that for different facilities such as the Turtle Cove and Spray n’ Blast mentioned in this post there can be separate entrance fees in addition to park entrance fee.
Educational Opportunities: Take advantage of educational programs and interpretive centers within the parks. These can enhance your understanding and appreciation of the natural environment. Our family enjoyed a Maple Sugaring event last year and my oldest still talks about it.
Come for the nature, stay for the fun
If you haven’t given the Huron-Clinton Metroparks in Southeast Michigan a visit I would highly recommend adding these parks to your next outdoor adventure.
If you are already familiar with this park system I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone of your current favorite and try out a new park!