Five-Star Trails: Ann Arbor and Detroit: Your Guide to the Area’s Most Beautiful Hikes by Greg Tasker (Menasha Ridge Press, 240 pages, July 2011) Amazon link
While it’s not hot off the press, the season is right for picking up this trail guide. Michigan author and hiking enthusiast Greg Tasker shares his expertise on the breadth of metro Detroit hiking trails. He recommends local route options for beginners through to the more experienced hiker, as well as family-friendly options.
Five-Star Trails is a perfect tool to accompany an outdoor adventure. The pocket-size guide includes detailed trail maps, elevation profiles, and GPS coordinates for off-beat paths. A useful legend outlines bodies of water, path directions, and public use facilities.
One of the book’s highlights is the information on rail-trails, paths evolved from abandoned rail lines. Tasker describes two of the more popular routes, Paint Creek Trail and West Bloomfield Trail, as “gentle” and suitable for beginners (like me). These trails connect to others spanning across Oakland County, providing an easy transition into new territory. Scenic routes include options for Ann Arbor’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens, BaldMountain and Holly State Recreation Areas, and the Kensington Metropark system.
Only two trails detailed in the book are exclusively urban. Otherwise, Tasker shares surprising finds throughout the outer metro region, offering close-to-home accessibility, yet providing that far-away experience. A star rating system provides succinct information up-front so hikers have no unwanted surprises. In this area, Tasker also shares cautions for poison ivy, ticks and dangerous insects, as well as natural predators such as snakes and bears.
Additional resources include a list of hiking clubs and suggested outdoor retailers for those wishing to take their level of hiking experience from novice to enthusiast. Would-be hikers are also provided with a number of accompanying photos to help determine a desirable route for the journey.