Island Lake Trail

The Michigan weather hasn’t improved – still cool and cloudy – but we are not letting the weather stop us from enjoying the bike trails in the area.  Last week we patched together a long ride from three connected trails.

We started with the Island Lake Trail in Island Lake State Recreation Area.  Island Lake was a hard place to get to – at least from the direction we came.  If you come at it from the east, there are all kinds of signs telling you what exit to take, what road to take.  But we came up from the south and there weren’t any signs.  We also couldn’t find directions to the bike trail head, so I made my best guess as navigator and got us to the trailhead.  Tom didn’t appreciate the dirt roads – where’s his sense of adventure?

Sign of the trails at Island Lake
Sign of the trails at Island Lake

Signs for getting to the park weren’t the only problem.  When we found the trailhead we finally saw a sign which was a very nice – big and wooden – but not all that helpful.  And once we started riding the Island Lake Trail it was hard to stay on it.  When we were coming back we realized, again, that there were good signs coming from the other direction.  I guess we just chose the wrong end to start, but you would think they would want good signs both directions.  Oh, and FYI, Island Lake isn’t in Island Lake State Recreation Area – it is in Kensington Metro Park.  Which is not in the city of Kensington but seems to be part of the extended Ann Arbor / Detroit Metro Park system.

Sign problems aside, the trails were really fun and beautiful.  Island Lake State Recreation Area is mainly a mountain bike area with two heavily used trails and one four-mile paved trail for multi-use.  There are some lovely woods and a pine forest that smelled wonderful.  We saw some Sand Hill Cranes.  At the end of the four miles we connected to the Kensington Metro Park Trail which split to go around Island Lake.  We took the southern shore of the lake first and rode next to Interstate 96 for a little while.  Island Lake is beautiful, although shallow and thus filled with – you got it – lots of islands.

When we got to the eastern end of the lake, the trail hooked up with the Milford Trail – which is basically a trail designed for the residents of Milford to get from place to place (library, post office, park) without driving.  We rode over the dam, stopped at a nice shelter for a snack, and then turned around.  The dam has rests for a canoe or kayak to be portaged around the dam.

On our way back, around the north shore of Island Lake, we stopped by the (closed) park concession area.  There were paddle boats to rent with really fun names like Noodle, Turbo, and Hank.  There was a Great Blue Heron that was interested in renting a boat, but when we told him they were closed, he flew away.

The trail was really pretty and interesting.  There were lots of ups and downs and curves.  The best part (and best marked) was around the lake in Kensington Metro Park.  All together we rode 26.5 miles.  We did it in two hours, for an average speed of 13 miles an hour – which I guess violates the 10 mph speed limit on the trail.  Fortunately there weren’t a lot of other people on the trail to complain.  We went up in elevation 1165 ft (and coasted back down the same amount) and I burned 949 calories, which meant we could eat at Smokehouse 52 BBQ in Chelsea for supper.  Yum!

A winding trail through the woods
Sand Hill Cranes
The south shore of Island Lake with a closed water park
Trail rules
Kensington Metro Park map – on the north shore
One of the straighter sections near Milford
Great Blue Heron wants to rent a paddle boat
Great Blue Heron flies away
The fun paddle boats – note the names in front
Big curve ahead
Nice bike shelter in Milford
The bridge over the dam in Mildord
Rests for portaging canoes or kayaks