|At a fishing pier at the trailhead|
I crossed no less than a half dozen bridges, quite possibly many more , I didn't count them, the river winds even more than the path. The trails crossed the river or ran alongside of it and if you didn't see it, you knew it was very close by. Many places to wet a line or launch a canoe or kayak and several fishing docks and platforms. If you don't have a watercraft there were ponds with boat rentals and paddle-boats if you prefer to pedal on the water.
Each park was unique from the others with things offered and the nature of the terrain. The Lower Huron Metropark is more densely wooded with more climbs that are steep but mostly short. It's similar to Kensington but doesn't circle a lake, Kensington has longer climbs and one monster hill, these were short and steep with none standing out as a biggie. Willow Metropark had more rolling hills and the climbs softened and the trail opened up more to meadows. There was a unique train crossing that forced you through a wooden gate system where you had no choice but to walk your bike through it. This was right at the entrance to the Village of New Boston and while I was passing through a crew was paining it. On the other side was a small cemetery with only three marked graves that I could see. It was tiny and right alongside the path. It was called Nowland and the sign had an Indian head on it. The sign was just far enough away that I couldn't read it and if the painters hadn't been right there I might have snuck under the split rail fence to read it. I could make out that it had a historical registry number on it but that's all.
|Village of New Boston|
There was a large pond and trailhead parking pretty much in the middle of Willow. The path came to a fork at the pond and you could take the high or low road, I chose the high road on the trip out and the low road on the trip back, on the trip back it ran right alongside the river and was very scenic and pretty. Parts of the trail in this park, particularly where it turned into a connector to Oakwoods and ran right alongside of the I-275 trail. I've been toying with riding that trail because I recall it being built when I was much younger and it was the first bike trail I ever knew of. However it does run right alongside a very busy interstate highway and I'm not sure I'd like all the noise from the traffic. It was very noticeable while riding on the section that paralleled it. Although the sights and scents are very much like the parks at home, one thing that really stood out about sounds was that Lower Huron and Willow are not far from Detroit Metro Airport and I'm no longer used to seeing planes that are low in the sky, large and so loud that you can hear them. Out where I live, it's so far from a major airport that jumbo jets are mere silver slivers in the sky and soundless. The only planes we have are either pontoon seaplanes on the lakes or tiny aircraft that land on small grass landing strips.
Oakwoods Metropark is a misnomer, it is here that the landscape really flattens out and you ride in the midst of marshland and lowlands. There is an occasional stand of trees but mostly you are out in the open with no escape from the sun. I did notice that the occasional tree or grouping of trees were hardwoods and saw the tell-tale green nuts on the ground, indicating hickory trees present. The biggest claim to fame for this park is the Nature Center and an equestrian staging area. The region is where these lowlands become the delta that typifies a major river emptying into a larger body of water, in this case it would be the Huron into Lake Erie. Today was about 10 degrees F hotter than it's been in several days and since this open part of my ride was at the furthest point out and near the turnaround, I was beginning to feel a bit cooked. Fortunately it was a short 3 1/2 mile segment. I was looking forward to the Nature Center on the grounds at the end of the park. It was not air conditioned in there but it was in a wooded section and did have vending machines with cold drinks so I could refill my water bottle and get a Gatorade. I freshened up in the restrooms and I pulled the same trick I did on the Falling Waters trail and that was that the bottom 1/4 of my water bottle had become too hot to drink but it still felt cool when I dumped it over my head. Wet hair was nice and cool on the ride back.
|The open marshland of the delta before Lake Erie|
|No escaping the sun|
|A foot trail adjacent to the nature center|
|Huron River overlook|
My hybrid cruiser/mountain bike is great on the gravel roads, bike paths and occasional roads that I ride on and serves me well for the 8-15 mile rides that I normally do along with being my errand bike. If 20-30 mile rides are in my future, a new bike is too. It just takes too long to ride those distances with my current bike. If I keep up longer rides I may have to look for a touring bike or a modified road bike with flat bars and relaxed geometry. True road bikes are not in my future, I rode them as a teenager but with joint issues and both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis I need a more upright riding positing and a relaxed versus aggressive geometry bike. For the time being that idea will have to be on hold.
|Monument at the Trailhead of Lower Huron Metropark|