MICHIGAN—Detroit might be known as an industrial hub, but it’s also bursting with opportunities for joggers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. Tucked away in and around the Motor City are trail systems, scenic running routes, and public green spaces that lend themselves perfectly to exercise and exploration.
You can even stick within the city limits to unearth recreation hotspots like Milliken State Park, Michigan’s premier “urban state park” on the riverfront, or the Dequindre Cut, an accessible paved greenway on the city’s east side. Of course, outdoor exercise is usually more enjoyable when shared with friends—or accompanied by the promise of a post-jog pint. That’s where Metro Detroit’s social running and hiking clubs come in.
Not a full-blown athlete or a particularly enthusiastic jogger? No problem. In fact, you don’t even have to like running to stretch your legs with fellow Detroiters. (We’re looking at you, power-walkers). Regardless of your fitness level, there’s a welcoming organization in or around the city to help get you moving.
Lace up your shoes and check out 10 of Metro Detroit’s best running and hiking groups.
If you like your jogs with a side of beer, Running For Brews might just be your new favorite group. The concept is simple: Running enthusiasts meet up at local breweries, head out for 2- to 3-mile runs, then relax with craft brews at the finish line. While Running For Brews is a nationwide organization, its Royal Oak branch is thriving, frequently hosting special events like “onesie runs” (yes, this means you get to run in your favorite pajamas), charitable fundraisers, and holiday-themed jogs.
You might have passed RUNDetroit’s storefront on West Canfield Street, but did you know that the Motor City-based athletic store also hosts meet-ups and organized runs? RUNDetroit’s free Saturday group runs take place year-round, rain or shine, and feature three route options: 3, 6, and 10 miles. Runners, joggers, and walkers alike are asked to meet outside the storefront in time for an 8 a.m. kickoff. There’s also free parking on site and RUNDetroit will securely hold your car keys inside the store until your run concludes.
As its name suggests, Metro Detroit Women Hikers brings together women from in and around the Motor City to combine hiking with casual socializing. To be counted among the community’s more than 3,000 members, you’ll need to join the Facebook group, where fellow hikers create individual events to promote upcoming hikes, curate trail lists, and share encouragement. Metro Detroit Women Hikers provides an open atmosphere where women can exercise and converse freely, so events are limited to adults only.
Outdoor Afro seeks to center and amplify Black voices by encouraging “leadership in nature.” While non-Black allies are welcome, the group’s stated mission is to curate nature-based experiences for Black residents throughout Metro Detroit by way of organized hiking, swimming, fishing, biking, and kayaking outings. Of course, Outdoor Afro’s mission isn’t limited to Detroit—the organization operates more than 50 networks throughout the United States, including in Grand Rapids for western Michiganders. To get involved with the Detroit community, join its Facebook group of more than 1,300 members.
Here’s one for the intellectuals. The Avid Readers is a Metro Detroit hiking meetup group that brands itself as a welcoming space for those who want to “hike with avid learners, readers, and thinkers.” The group gathers for a monthly stroll at Bloomfield Hills’ Cranbrook campus and promises a moderate walking pace, so less experienced hikers will feel right at home. Attendees are asked to come prepared to discuss their most recent reads and engage in thoughtful conversation with fellow bookworms and nature enthusiasts.
For more serious runners who want to challenge themselves and build stamina, WeRun313 is a fantastic option. This Detroit running club is the largest of its sort in Michigan, boasting a membership of more than 2,000 runners from throughout the region. In addition to weekly runs ranging from 2 miles to full-blown 10ks, WeRun313 helps members train for upcoming races and marathons. Monthly membership costs $9.99 and includes access to social gatherings, merchandise discounts, and more.
If you’ve got little ones, Hike it Baby offers accessible and inclusive opportunities to get outside with the whole family. In affiliation with nonprofit organization OutGrown, the Detroit branch of Hike it Baby encourages families with babies and young children to experience the great outdoors by way of free events at local parks, nature trails, and green spaces. Kids will connect with nature while new parents connect with peers. Stay informed about upcoming gatherings by joining the Hike it Baby Metro Detroit Facebook group.
Clear some space on your calendar each Tuesday to join the Downtown Runners & Walkers, an informal and free walking and running group in the heart of the Motor City. No matter the weather, the group meets at a different local recreation spot each week to embark on a walk or run of 4 to 6 miles—you decide the pace and length. Of course, there’s a reward at the end, as group members gather to share friendly chatter, food, and a few drinks after each outing. If this sounds like a fit for you, simply refer to the Downtown Runners & Walkers calendar and drop in for a Tuesday meetup.
For women who want to explore trail running, Trail Sisters is hard to beat. The organization operates dozens of branches throughout the United States, including a thriving group in Metro Detroit that’s free to join. Trail running differs from traditional jogging or hiking in that it encourages athletes to traverse all sorts of terrain and immerse themselves in nature while building stamina and strength—a departure from traditional jogging that takes place on pavement or largely flat land. Trail Sisters prides itself on inclusion for all who identify as women and encourages participants of diverse backgrounds to get involved. Create an account on the Trail Sisters website and join the Detroit branch’s Facebook group for more details.
Venture to downtown Mount Clemens for a weekly run or walk with fitness group City Sneakers, which meets every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. to tackle a 2-, 4-, or 6-mile route—your choice. Walkers and runners of varying levels are encouraged to partake regardless of experience level or preferred pace. City Sneakers’ stated goal is to encourage wellness and community-building for all, so there’s no cost to get involved. Additional information and a calendar of upcoming meetup dates can be found on the Mount Clemens City Sneakers Facebook page.
BY ANNA LIZ NICHOLS, MICHIGAN ADVANCE MICHIGAN—Two months after a federal judge panel ordered Michigan’s redistricting commission to redraw seven...
BY ANNA LIZ NICHOLS, MICHIGAN ADVANCE MICHIGAN—Earlier this month, reproductive rights groups joined together for a lawsuit looking to throw out...
A decision by the Alabama Supreme Court is raising concerns about the future of fertility care. But four US representatives from Michigan are...
We're highlighting the innovative women at Midwest CannaNurses, who are driving change in the perception of cannabis in communities of color through...
Severe thunderstorms with large hail and several possible rare winter tornadoes toppled trees, cut power and damaged homes in the Chicago area and...