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This trail is actually composed of two trails: the 2-mile Rouge River Gateway Greenway and the 17.5-mile Hines Park Trail, which create a seamless 19.5-mile connection between Dearborn and Northville.
Starting at the Michigan Avenue trailhead in Dearborn, the Rouge River Gateway Greenway winds north through the University of Michigan–Dearborn campus for 2 miles. Just south is Henry Ford’s popular yesteryear tourist attraction, Greenfield Village, an 80-acre open-air museum featuring seven historic districts covering 300 years of American life.
Heading north toward the university, you’ll cross the Lower Rouge River and Fair Lane Drive, where the historic Henry Ford Estate sits to your left. The trail then runs along Fair Lane Drive and past the university and its affiliated environmental interpretive center, and then crosses the Rouge River again near Kingfisher Bluff—a bend in the river that is now a storm-water management project with an observation overlook and interpretive signage.
Crossing over Ford Road, the trail turns into the Hines Park Trail, which takes you 17.5 miles to Northville. Automotive history is not confined to Greenfield Village, as classic-car buffs tend to flock to Edward N. Hines Drive, which runs adjacent to the trail, for official and unofficial events; don’t be surprised to see Model T Fords and flashy cars of all vintages along this historic stretch of trail.
The trail travels through Wayne County’s linear Hines Park, which has a dog park and plentiful picnic facilities, gazebos, sports fields, exercise equipment, ponds, playgrounds, restrooms, and parking. Near the middle of the trail, just before reaching Ann Arbor Trail, is historic Nankin Mills, a gristmill turned natural and cultural interpretive center, which has indoor restrooms and tanks with local wildlife, such as turtles. You can rent bikes and Segways and purchase snacks at the private establishment next to the gristmill.
Before reaching mile 11, the trail intersects the 33.2-mile I-275 Metro Trail, which runs north to Novi and south to New Boston.
Restrooms and parking are accessible in very short intervals throughout the park, but water is less plentiful; those planning to travel the entire length of the park should bring a bottle and fill up when possible.
The trail repeatedly intersects the Rouge River—historically embattled by industrial waste but making a comeback (note that on portions of the trail near the river, flooding can be an issue). Although the river and woods create a nice backdrop, the trail runs next to the 40-mile-per-hour park road, Edward N. Hines Drive, for most of the way to Northville, creating not the away-from-it-all experience preferred by some trail users. However, its proximity to thousands of adjacent suburban homes makes it an ideal “close-to-home” gem for recreation, fitness, and travel.
To reach the southern trailhead in Dearborn from I-94 in Taylor, take Exit 204 for MI 39 N./Southfield Fwy. N. Merge onto Southfield Fwy. N. and go 2.5 miles. Take Exit 6 toward US 12/Michigan Ave., and go 0.2 mile. Merge onto Southfield Road, and go 0.3 mile. Take the ramp onto US 12 W./Michigan Ave. heading west, and go 1.4 miles. Turn right into the trailhead parking lot, which is located north of Dearborn Station.
To reach the northern trailhead in Northville from MI 14 in Plymouth, take Exit 20 for Sheldon Road, head north on Sheldon Road, and go 2.7 miles. Turn right onto Edward N. Hines Dr., and go 0.4 mile (you’ll pass W. Seven Mile Road on your left). Turn left into the parking lot. The northern endpoint is about 0.3 mile north on the Hines Park Trail.
The trail can also be accessed at many points along Edward N. Hines Dr. between Dearborn and Northville, with parking lots at frequent intervals.
We rode the Hines Park Trail but not the Rouge River. It is a well marked trail which runs along a road with a wide shoulder, most of the serious riders were riding on the street. We rode the path going one way and switched to the street going back. We happened upon a car show that ran for about 7.5 of the 17.5 miles of the trail (Cruisin Hines) which was fun to see. The trail has some bumps and there are a couple of steep inclines regardless of whether you are on the road or the trail. A couple of very narrow sections. The scenery is very pretty, lots of lakes and ponds and rivers.
I rode this entire trail round trip starting at the very nice parking lot on Michigan ave. For most of the trail you can choose to ride on Hines Drive which about half the bikers were doing. I went north on the trail to northville where I stopped for a bowl of soup and returned on Hines Drive.
The surface is mostly quite good and generally flat. At the Northville end I finished on the road rather than the trail to 7 mile road simply because I wanted the variation of a significant climb.
The only confusing place is at the University. Stay on the trail there and don't be tempted to do the road. There's a place where there is a little roundabout circle and it's not obvious which trail to take. Coming from South turn left going downhill into the forest. Obviously coming from north to south turn right at the top of the rise.
Also watch out for the detour away from Hines Drive at the Northville end although either trail or road you end up nearby on 7 mile.
Finally note that after a rain (like my ride) there are a number of significant spots where the trail is under water. But it's easy to bike around through the grass.
I hit one bad pothole on a bridge near Merriman road. I never saw it since it was covered by leaves at it almost threw me off my bike.
As someone said it's a pretty URBAN trail with nice parks to the side all along the ride. The turnoff to the 275 trail is well marked. My 4 rating is because it's very nice but not outstanding and I got tired of traffic noise. Hines Drive is a well traveled road. I do recommend doing this trail. Stop at Nankin Mills interpretive center if you have time and do a loop around Northville. They have a little rebuilt block similar to Greenfield village though very small. It's worth the visit.
Pretty scenery, and very bike friendly street riding. Would do it again.
I made my first roll up this trail a week ago, starting at the lot behind Andiamo's (which is marked with trailhead signs), and making it nearly to the end.
The lower half of the trail from Dearborn is flatter, but be aware that there are steeper hills once you get out towards Livonia, Plymouth and Northville. I made it to halfway between Six and Seven Mile Roads, on top of one of the larger hills, and decided not to burn myself out on the last portion. If you like hills, the western half of the trail is an excellent workout.
A couple of parts of the trail cut through areas of gravel parking lots, so there is some loose gravel scattered on the trail. Since there are many county parks along Hines Drive, you also want to watch for inattentive drivers pulling in and out of the parking lots. There are few major roads to cross, which is one of the nice features of Hines Drive, even if you are in an automobile.
The trail did have some dicey spots to it, so I understand why many cyclists stuck to the roadway as opposed to the trail. Given that the shoulders are wide enough, the roadway is somewhat safe. Seeing that the changes in grading are more gradual, it is a wise move to take the roadway shoulder on your return trip.
One interesting part of this trail is the connector from the trailhead behind Andiamo's to the actual trail along Hines Drive. First you cut through a heavily wooded area; you'd think you were up north. You cross the Rouge River twice. You then come upon the expansive University of Michigan Dearborn campus, and also pass the entrance to the Henry Ford Estate.
The I-275 "Metro Trail" connects to this trail system in Plymouth. I had also considered taking a detour into Plymouth, but Wilcox Rd. had no shoulder to speak of, so I passed. Next trip, I will find a better route into downtown Plymouth.
There weren't many issues with the trails. As mentioned, there were a couple of spots with loose gravel. The vegetation along the sides could have used some care, as some of the branches and weeds were hanging over the path. If noise from traffic bothers you, it can indeed get tiring over the entire length of the trail. On my trip in mid September, approaching evening, there were a lot of gnats flying around; keep your glasses on and your mouth closed!
Overall I could rate this about 3.5 stars. It's a nice alternative, and I will ride it again, but is not one of my top "go-to" choices in the area.
Rode for the first time with a group of eight on 8/29/2015. Parked in lot next to Andiamo's on Michigan Avenue and rode the trail all the way through to Northville and back. What's interesting about Hines Park is that on Saturday mornings for about six hours police close the road to vehicular traffic which opens up just the trail to essentially a four-lane bike highway. There are something like 20 parks throughout the trail that you can stop at, plenty of restrooms with full plumbing, only a couple major roads to cross but are pretty clearly marked.
The things to look out for: if/when you're on the UofM-Dearborn campus, if coming from Michigan Ave, make sure you turn left, not right, at the fork if you want to continue on the trail; also there is a poorly marked area that takes you under a bridge that is probably less than two feet wide so either walk your bike or disconnect your cleats while riding under in case someone from the other end comes through at the same time and a quick stop is necessary.
Outside of those couple areas, this was a near-perfect trail.
I started at the UofM Dearborn campus and did the full trail, stopping off at Plymouth to grab a coffee. The trail is very well maintained, and an easy ride. My only complaint is that, since it follows a major road the whole path, the view was a little boring for my taste. Maybe in summer it will be a bit more idealic.
Rode this all-paved trail for the first time 11-1-14. I never knew that this interconnected park system existed. A great ride, you would think you were up north, not in Wayne County. Park at Andiamos in Dearborn and ride into Northville and then back. Lots of little hills, scenic river, lakes. Only a few roads to cross.
I did this trail starting at Andiamos parking lot and rode up the trail 10 miles. In all those miles, we only crossed 2 big streets, Hines dr. and Outer dr. They had the road closed from Outer Dr. to I'm not sure how far west (I rode in 5 miles and the road was still closed to car traffic).
Overall the ride was great and I will be riding again for sure.
I've had the pleasure of riding Hines drive starting @ warren-dale park Near H.Y.P.E Recreation Center going West to Ann Arbor Trail Rd. On Saturday Mornings part of Hines drive is closed to motor vehicle traffic, which allows bicyclers, roller bladders, long boarders, runners and walkers can take advantage of the trail and the street without cars impeding on them.
One of my favorite trails to ride (next to Huron Valley.) I like that it links up with the I-275 Metro. Bikin' in the D!
The people around here must be really lazy...this is an awesome ride. It's just sad more people don't use it.
Lived here my whole life, great family ride and up to the pros! Saturdays in the summer the car road is closed to motorized vehicles 9-3p. You can ride on the path or the street between Ann Arbor Trail and Outer Drive! It is smooth if you are on the street, path is great if river is low. It was built as a river overflow so it does flood and even close with high water!
The trail is all paved but the surface is not so smooth. I saw many bikers trapped with overflow and pools.
I rode my longboard from Ann Arbor Trail all the way towards Dearborn to Michigan Avenue yesterday. Pleasant ride. Not many people on the trail. Most people use the road since they are all cyclists. Due to recent rain there were lots of puddles I had to walk around. Will ride again once it dries out.
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