Kayla, Dan and Zach Birko, from Clinton Township, take a spin on the new outdoor skating rink in Sterling Heights Dec. 26.

Kayla, Dan and Zach Birko, from Clinton Township, take a spin on the new outdoor skating rink in Sterling Heights Dec. 26.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Snowless fun can be done outside in metro Detroit

By: Sherri Kolade | C&G Newspapers | Published January 9, 2019


METRO DETROIT — What do you do when the weather outside is not so frightful and there is no snow on the ground to be found?

Go outside and frolic in the nothingness of winter’s chill, of course.

From local skating rinks to sprawling hiking paths, these activities don’t depend on wintry weather, according to Farmington Hills’ Heritage Park programmer, Carol Fink.

“I just went hiking yesterday — winter is the season ... to be celebrated, not dreaded,” said Fink, who took a hike on an overcast day at Heritage Park, on Farmington Road. “It was beautiful here.”

Fink, a naturalist and a lover of the outdoors, said that it is a beautiful time of year to hike.

Regardless of whether there is snow on the ground, winter hiking requires the right clothing and footwear to stay warm and not slip.

She said that the winter woods tell a story.

“It is easier to see (or) find animal tracks, see where they are going, see their homes — whether they are in trees or burrows. You can see more some of the winter things,” Fink said.

“We have a very busy winter; we are always busy at the nature center — there is always something to do. ... We embrace the winter,” she said.

Melissa Andrade, assistant to the city manager in Farmington, also loves a good hike.

Andrade, also the chair of the Riley Park Ice Rink Committee, said that the Riley Park Ice Rink is a main attraction.

“The other thing I enjoy doing in the winter is walking in Shiawassee Park — it has a river that goes alongside it. It is just really nice. I have a dog, and (it’s) just a gorgeous little hike in the woods along the river,” she said, adding that she also walks through the historic district in downtown Farmington. “A nice, charming way to get some fresh air in the winter. The houses are beautiful; the lawns are kept well.”

Riley Park and its Walter E. Sundquist Pavilion comprise a 0.85-acre minipark. The year-round park is home to the Riley Park Ice Rink, which is maintained through general funds from the city. The rink draws crowds that congregate near heat lamps under the pavilion or brave the cold and wind to skate.

 The ice rink opened earlier in December.

Currently, the ice rink has an honor system through which people can borrow ice skates.

Andrade said a glow skate event will be held 7-9 p.m. Jan. 19, and there will be a karaoke skate in February.

Sterling Heights Recreation Superintendent Mark DiSanto is all about the ice too.

A skating rink at the site of the Farmers Market Pavilion in Dodge Park is a new amenity in the city.

DiSanto said that people must “dress for the elements.”

“But it is for general skating. We have a good size rink for our community,” he said of the rink that is open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays.

Skate rentals cost $3 for Sterling Heights residents and $5 for nonresidents.

DiSanto said the city also has a nature center that holds a lot of other activities.

“Some are inside, obviously,” he said, noting a recent nature center parents night out activity.

“Come do some nature activities, go on a hike,” he said.

For information regarding weather closures, call the Dodge Park Ice Rink hotline at (586) 446-2711.

For information on Heritage Park, go to www.fhgov.com/Activities/Parks-Facilities/Heritage-Park.aspx.

Staff Writer Eric Czarnik contributed to this report.