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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.
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