Bookended by an established nature preserve and a community park, with plans to connect it to more rail-trail miles, the West Bloomfield Trail measures up to much more than its nearly 7-mile length. The southwest endpoint is at Haggerty Road and heading northeast from there you arrive at West Bloomfield Woods Nature Preserve, 162 acres with looping hiking trails.
The limestone trail is steeped in nature, aside from some large homes sprinkled around the preserve. Don't be alarmed if what appears to be a lawn ornament suddenly turns and bounds toward the forestone pass on this trail provides clear sightings of deer, raccoon and rabbits. Turtles, waterfowl and assorted frogs populate the ponds and lakes, and the forests are filled with spruce, hickory, oak and maple trees. Interpretive markers flank the trail, but be sure to pick up a map and brochure at the nature preserve for the real inside scoop on this thriving natural habitat.
You can expect to see lots of wildlife in the nature preserve, such as great blue herons, woodchucks, coyotes and foxes. From here the trail follows a gentle downhill slope through the communities of West Bloomfield, Orchard Lake, Keego Harbor and Sylvan Lake, with many ponds pocketed along the trail. You can expect to see ducks, geese and other waterfowl, as well as turtles parked in a row on logs soaking up the sun.
Orchard Lake is the first of three large lakes the trail overlooks. At this point the trail follows an old train tunnel under busy Long Lake Road. Orchard Lake is also home to Apple Island, where Chief Pontiac is thought to have held council with neighboring tribes to plan an attack on Fort Detroit in the mid-18th century. You reach the trail's end at Sylvan Manor Park; there are no signs identifying the park from the trail, but an asphalt path with a basketball court signals your arrival in a city park. If you continue northeast from here, you will be following the Clinton River Trail
, which connects with Paint Creek Trailway
and Macomb Orchard Trail
To access the Arrowhead Road trailhead in the nature preserve, take State Route M-5 north to where it comes to a T-intersection with Pontiac Trail. Turn tight into Pontiac Trail and travel 3 miles to right turn on Arrowhead Road. Go 0.5 mile to the trailhead parking on left side.
To access the Sylvan Manor Park, from the intersection of State Route M-24 (Telegraph Road) and Orchard Lake Road, turn west on Orchard Lake Rd., go past Middle Belt Road for 2 blocks and turn left on Figa Avenue. Go 1 block, turn right on Woodrow Wilson Rd. and proceed 4 blocks to Sylvan Manor Park on your right.