A few blog posts back, I shared that we were participating in the 1000 Hours Outside challenge this year, and to encourage other local homeschoolers to do the same, I thought I’d share some of the places we go for our nature walks as well as some places we want to go in the future.
We’re in SE Michigan, so this list only contains parks or trails within about 30 minutes of where we live. We tend to stick close to home in the colder months but will travel farther when warmer. I’ll have to make another list of those places later this year, won’t I? 😉
Places We Love
Heritage Park ~ Farmington Hills, MI
This is by far our favorite place to walk. The trails are safe and well-maintained, there’s always wildlife to see or listen to, and there’s a nature center with indoor, CLEAN restrooms to use. That’s key all year round, but especially in the winter.
Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve ~ Southfield, MI
I’ve driven past this nature preserve for years but finally decided to check it out recently. I was pleasantly surprised to see how child-friendly the trails are. While there are no restrooms, the trails are easy, and there’s a viewing deck next to a ravine and waterfall at the back. Heads up… a few parts of the trail can get muddy, so consider that when bringing the kids and pets on walks.
Bauervic Park ~ Southfield, MI
This park is a hidden gem. The trails are short, easy, and offer lots of trees to climb on and explore—no restrooms, but still very child-friendly and fun.
Shepherd Park ~ Oak Park, MI
Shepherd Park is becoming another go-to place to walk. It’s not somewhere we go to explore nature necessarily, but it’s definitely a safe place with paved paths to frequent. The kids can take their scooters, so that adds to the fun. There are restrooms; however, I’m not sure if they are open year-round. There’s a community center close by, though, so I’m sure families could go there in an emergency.
On a side note, I’ve been going to this park since I was a child, and it’s always nostalgic to see my babies playing where I used to play.
Tenhave Woods Trail at Quickstad Park ~ Royal Oak, MI
We have gone to this park once, and I have to say, it’s quite magical. It’s fenced in, and no dogs are allowed, but it has an energy that encourages exploration and fun. Apparently, there’s a pond there too — we haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, though. Parking is somewhat wonky as you have to park on the street and walk to the park, and there aren’t any restrooms, but if you’re looking for a new place to visit, I suggest trying it out.
U of M Dearborn Environmental Interpretative Center ~ Dearborn, MI
We haven’t been here in some years but used to take short walks when my oldest son took nature classes at the center. A pond and trail behind the center offer lots of opportunities to explore the local wildlife, trees, and plants.
Civic Center Park ~ Southfield, MI
Walking the trails behind the playground near the Southfield library makes you forget that you’re in the middle of the city. Towards the back of the trails, there is an old, dried-up pond, I believe, where you can read about what used to be there. It was a surprise to find. I’ll mention that the trails aren’t marked that well, so we got a bit turned around. We found our way out eventually, but being “lost” was kinda unsettling. We’ll have to pay more attention to where we are next time.
Places We Want to Visit
I have a long list of places to visit in the future, whether winter or not. I love taking the children to new nature spaces, so I’m looking forward to visiting the places I’ve listed below.
- Rotary Park – Livonia, MI
- River Rouge Gateway Natural Area – Dearborn, MI
- Virginia B. Matley Nature Trail – Livonia, MI
- Joe Prance Nature Trail and Butterfly Gardens – Dearborn, MI
- Woodland Hills Park – Farmington Hills, MI
- Lincoln Woods – Southfield, MI
- Maybury State Park – Novi, MI
- Hines Drive Ramble – Westland, MI
- Proud Lake State Recreation Area – Commerce Township, MI
- Valley Woods Nature Preserve – Southfield, MI
- Kensington Metropark – Milford, MI
Until next time, happy homeschooling, friends! Did I miss anywhere? If so, let me know what else should be added to the list.