belle isle nature trail

while this city is full of vacant overgrown areas there are surprisingly few places to go for a nice walk in the woods, and this is not because of a lack of wooded space.  i think a lot of it comes from the fact that most detroiters don’t want to go in the woods, and i can’t say that i blame them, who knows what kind of trouble might be in them, from the homeless, to mass murders, to folks cruising for sex, to wild packs of dogs.  though out my roaming of various parks i’ve never had much more than a passing run in with a doggie or anything else sketchy, but i do keep my eyes peeled.  when we first moved to the city we lived very close to palmer park i was excited cause i thought it would be a nice place to go explore, and it is, but i was certainly turned off by the fact that everyone walking/jogging was carrying a stick to beat of would be attackers.

but this is not about palmer park, it’s about the jewel in the river that we call belle isle.  the central part of the island is largely wooded, and provides great bushwhacking possibilities if that’s your thing, but it does also have a little know short trail – maybe a mile total in length if even that.   i plotted it on this google map.  i’m hoping this only the first, in the coming months i plan explore some other spots and hopefully be able to recommend some other walks.  if you know of walks, or want to keep me company let me know.

View detroit nature walks in a larger map

the walk starts right by the hand ball courts (if anyone wants to teach me hand ball, i’d be game for that as well) next to the stream that runs by it.  there is a paved, but cracked and overgrown path that leads into the woods.  the steam is murky and kind of gross, but i’ve seen plenty of turtles and wood ducks.  along the trail come july are plenty of wild raspberries and wild currants – though i’ve never manager to find i ripe currant something always seems to get them first.  since is pretty much a swamp you are walking though it can be pretty miserable during mosquito season.  it’s also a great place to get a quick bit of cross county skiing without having to go very far.


the start of the trail

the path continues though the woods until you come to an opening and then a small red bridge which you cross over and head back toward the handball court.  these is also a less well-defined trail that you can follow along the stream.  not far down the path on a walk on monday we found this strange bit of sculpture had been placed in the woods.


found just off the trail side

seems more of a nail oak than a pin oak to me.


close up - you can see the pins, or are those nails?

belle isle’s woods while not the most mature – are full of some really nice old oaks, in the coming years the forest will be changing rapidly as the ash finish dying off.  it seems like a prime location for some paw paws to grow, i’m hoping some of my seeds that i have in the ground can be seedlings to transplant at belle isle.


2 responses to “belle isle nature trail

  1. Love all the how-to posts. There are nice woodsy walks in Hines Park on the west side. On the far east side there is a little patch of woods in Balduck park. Of course outside the city there is Pickney recreation area, my favorite close place to hike.

    We planted some paw paw seeds along that same stream in ’08 – not sure if they came up or not.

  2. Oh, I forgot to say, sometimes folks are carrying the big sticks to fend off the four leggeds more than the two leggeds. —But good to be aware no matter where you go.

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