When the time comes that you just have to get away from it all and soak up the rejuvenating effects only nature can provide, the place to go is Kensington Metropark, a 4,357-acre treasure located in Milford.
What makes Kensington so special? In a word: variety.
There’s good reason some 2.5 million people a year make this park in Oakland County, along I-696 about an hour from downtown Detroit, the busiest in the Metropark system. Kensington, officially located at 2240 W. Bruno Rd., has it all — and then some.
Natural beauty abounds. Rolling, tree-covered hills surround lovely Kent Lake. At 1,200 acres, the lake formed by the Huron River offers two beaches for swimming. Anglers come for the bass (large and smallmouth), perch, northern pike, walleye, blue gills and the unfortunately named crappies. Two launches provide easy access to boaters. Paddleboats and rowboats can be rented. And for those who just want to sit back and glide across the water, there is the Island Queen II, a 49-passenger pontoon boat that makes hourly trips around the lake.
For those who prefer finding their fun on terra firma, there’s plenty to do. There are, of course, the requisite ball diamonds and picnic shelters, along with overnight camping sites (available to organized youth groups only). One of the park’s best features is its hiking trails — more than 8 miles’ worth — that pass through a tamarack bog, woods and open wetlands. If you prefer having your heart pumping a little faster while out enjoying nature, paved trails provide cyclists and in-line skaters plenty of room to roll.
Lovers of winged creatures can catch site of a great blue heron nesting in their springtime rookery, or possibly osprey, which have been re-established in the area through a special program. Volunteers help maintain bluebird nest boxes throughout the park, and a variety of programs are available throughout the year to assist bird watchers.
The park’s farm learning center — which includes a 150-year-old restored horse barn and poultry house — features horses, cows, ducks, sheep and pigs.
There’s a 20-station exercise trail and an 18-hole, par-71 regulation golf course that’s considered one of the better public courses in Michigan. Frisbee fans can take advantage of a 24-hole “disc golf course.”
But Kensington is more than just a warm weather kind of place. In the winter, there are more than 12 miles of groomed trails that can accommodate cross-country skiers of all skill levels. There are ice rinks for hockey and skating, and sledding hills. As if that’s not enough, there are also two toboggan runs.
You want more?
Well, there’s a nature center featuring live fish, snakes and honeybees.
There’s even more, but we’re getting kind of tired just talking about it all. You can learn more about Kensington, as well as other parks in the Huron-Clinton Metroparks system on the Web at www.metroparks.com.Curt Guyette is Metro Times news editor. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]