June 18, 2024 9:26 am

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The Paint Creek Trail: Michigan’s Fall Hiking Gem

If you're in the mood for Michigan hiking, keep reading and discover why the Paint Creek Trail ranks among the best Michigan trails, especially during the picturesque fall season!
A photo of the entrance to Paint Creek Trail walkway

Discover the Paint Creek Trail in Michigan: A Hiker’s Paradise

For those who believe that “the best trails are the ones you’ve never hiked,” Michigan offers some of the most scenic trails that one might come across. Among these is the enchanting Paint Creek Trail. If you’re in the mood for Michigan hiking, keep reading and discover why the Paint Creek Trail ranks among the best Michigan trails, especially during the picturesque fall season!


A Trail That Tells A Tale

Stretching from the bustling City of Rochester and threading its way through to the Village of Lake Orion, the Paint Creek Trail lets nature narrate a story of beauty and serenity. Built on the gentle grade of the erstwhile Penn Central railroad bed, this trail mirrors the twists and turns of the tranquil Paint Creek.

Covering approximately 8.9 miles, this all-weather trail offers more than just a path. As you wander, you might chance upon remnants of the Penn Central Railroad, giving you a taste of history amid nature. And if you’re hiking in the fall, expect a mesmerizing tunnel of golden and auburn trees arching overhead – making it one of the best fall hiking paths near Detroit.


Not Just a Walk in The Park

While the trail’s calming limestone surface is ideal for a peaceful walk, that’s not all it offers:

Historic Stops: Journey through Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, and more. Each stop is a page from Michigan’s rich history book.

Cycling Paths: Although unpaved, cyclists will find the trail a delight. And who knows, a curious deer might just cross your path!

Delicious Detours: Make sure to halt at the Paint Creek Cider Mill for a tantalizing donut and cup of cider! This spot is perfect for refueling and immersing yourself in the Michigan hiking experience.

Nature Overlooks: The trail isn’t just about walking or biking; it offers fishing areas and nature overlooks where you can catch a breath and soak in the beauty around you. If you’re lucky, a friendly deer might just greet you!

Shopping and Dining: Once you reach Lake Orion’s end, indulge in some shopping or savor a hearty meal at the many popular restaurants and businesses nearby.


Essentials for Every Explorer

  • Trail Access: Start from Ludlow Street in Rochester, adjacent to the Rochester Municipal Park, and follow the trail to Children’s Park in Lake Orion. Check out the Trail Access Map for detailed directions.
  • Surface Details: The majority of the trail is covered with crushed limestone, with a small section paved with asphalt. While roller blades might find it a challenge, strollers and wheelchairs can comfortably navigate.
  • Rest & Refresh: From the Rochester Municipal Park to the Paint Creek Cider Mill, you’ll find several restrooms along the way. Plus, quench your thirst at one of the trail’s drinking fountains or the hand pump at Paint Creek Junction Park.
  • Park & Start: Eight parking locations ensure you can easily drive to the trail and embark on your adventure.
  • Pet Policy: Dogs are welcome on a 6-foot leash. If you’re heading to the Rochester Municipal Park with your furry friend, remember to get a Park Dog Permit.
  • On Your Bike: Fancy exploring on two wheels? Rent a bike from the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester. If you own an electric bicycle, Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes are allowed, but make sure to review the trail’s electric bicycle policy.
  • Where to Eat: From restaurants on Main Street in Downtown Rochester to the cozy eateries in Lake Orion, you’ll never be far from a delicious meal.


If Michigan hiking is on your bucket list, the Paint Creek Trail offers a delightful blend of nature, history, and activity. Whether you’re looking for some solitude, a family day out, or a scenic cycle, this trail promises a memorable day out. So, put on those hiking boots, and embark on a journey through one of the best Michigan trails!


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