As seasons shift gears, bicyclists get unique view of fall color

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published September 5, 2019

 There are both mountain bike paths and paved biking trails at Oakland County’s Addison Oaks Park.

There are both mountain bike paths and paved biking trails at Oakland County’s Addison Oaks Park.

Photo provided by Desiree Stanfield, of Oakland County Parks and Recreation

Take one road, add two wheels and hundreds of colors. 

The result is an outdoor fall experience that you can only enjoy in Michigan.

It’s no secret that the Great Lakes State is a destination spot for seeing the beauty of changing fall leaves in all their glory. And while some of us will enjoy the view from the car window during our usual commute, others would prefer to get a closer look.

Fall biking is a favorite for Michiganders, according to the team at Pure Michigan, the state’s tourism campaign with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The Pure Michigan website is packed with ideas of places where people can head if they want to enjoy fall color from their bikes, from Sault Ste. Marie to the Boston-Edison neighborhood in Detroit. 

You can even check out a nifty color predictor on the Pure Michigan website, michigan.org/fall, to make sure you’re heading out at the optimal time for foliage color.

There are plenty of places to watch nature do its thing even in metro Detroit, where we tend to see more high-rises than tall oaks. 

The Huron-Clinton Metroparks have 13 parks in the area, nearly all of them with hiking and biking trails to enjoy, according to Danielle Mauter, the chief of marketing and communications for the park system.

“Summer is definitely the busiest season for our parks, but fall isn’t far behind. We see lots of people coming out to bike and enjoy the fall color with family and friends,” she said.

The key to planning your own bike tour is to see what amenities each park offers. Are you looking to feel the fall wind in your hair, or do you want a more leisurely ride with the kiddos? Do you have a bike you love, or do you need to rent one from the parks system? There are a lot of options to consider.

“The hike/bike trails, which most of the metroparks have, are great if you want good views, but you’re not going to be riding super fast,” Mauter said. “If you’re an avid rider with a road bike, I would say the roads within Kensington Metropark (in Milford) would be great for that.”

On the other side of town, Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township has been consistently voted among the top parks in metro Detroit for hiking and biking trails.

If a bike ride around Chapel Trail in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is too far north for your liking, you can fake it, according to Thomas Hughes, chief of park operations and maintenance in the South District of the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department.

“I think Addison Oaks is the most popular bike facility, with 6 miles of mountain bike trail and 2 1/2 miles of paved trail,” Hughes said of the county park in Leonard. “I think that park really gives you an up-north feel with the elevation changes and the isolation — it’s really quiet — but you’re still close to home.”

Hughes said that Addison Oaks County Park has mountain bike trails with narrow clearings through wooded areas on a single track, and also a paved trail with a wider path that loops around the lake. Whichever route riders choose, he said, they won’t be disappointed.

“There’s a lot of different trees, and you can ride up and down through the terrain of the park and really get some beautiful views,” he added. 

Call Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at (586) 498-1095.