Walking, jogging and enjoying spring still allowed but facilities closed

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

We might be on a state-wide lockdown, but it's still springtime in Metro Detroit. So long as social distancing measures are heeded, going outside is still allowed.

Taking walks, going for a run and exploring parks and neighborhoods can offer a safe way to stretch out and enjoy some sunshine and a break from working at home or Netflix binges. 

Because of the stay-at-home order, many park offices are closed and all activities have been canceled. Some cities have even gone so far as to wrap playground equipment with caution tape to discourage use. 

Playground equipment is taped off, but walking trails, the basketball court and other elements of Harding Park in Ferndale are open to the public during the stay-at-home order.

Many walking and jogging trails are open, as well as some basketball courts, baseball diamonds, golf courses, gardens and other open-air spaces. 

The Taylor Conservancy botanical garden is open with more than seven acres of nature that is modeled after Belle Isle's Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, which is closed. 

"We're an open-air facility ... we just ask that people do respect the six-foot distancing rule," said Erin Dobbins, a board member with the Taylor Conservatory, adding that the annual plants aren't in the ground yet, but the perennials are just blooming.

"Most of our plants right now are dormant but there's birds, and little buds sprouting all over and we have some benches under the trees if people want to come and sit out in the garden and read," she said. "We have some nature trails on our back 40 that connect to Heritage Park, which is a nice little stroll. The petting zoo is closed but you might get to see some chickens wandering around."

Here are some more ideas to think about while you lace up your sneakers. 

Belle Isle: As a state park, Belle Isle remains open, but the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, Belle Isle Aquarium and other facilities are closed. The island itself is still open daily 5 a.m-10 p.m. for walks, bike rides and sightseeing. Enter off Jefferson at E. Grand Boulevard, Detroit. belleisleconservancy.org

Detroit Riverfront: Enjoy sunshine in Cullen Plaza, 1340 Atwater, where the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit is handing out free meals to kids 1:30-2 p.m. Tues., Thurs. and Fri. The Riverfront also connects to the art-filed Dequindre Cut GreenWay, which is open for walking, jogging and biking from Atwater near Orleans all the way to Eastern Market at Mack. detroitriverfront.org

Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township abounds with outdoor recreational opportunities, including scenic mountain bike trails.

Huron-Clinton Metroparks: Kensington, Stony Creek, Lake St. Clair, Hudson Mills Metroparks and others are open, but restrooms, playgrounds, offices and nature centers are closed. The 13 Metroparks are free to enter Tues.-Thurs. Regular admission is charged and tollbooths are staffed Fri.-Mon. Annual passes can be purchased online at metroparks.com/shop. For those who want to make getting out into nature a learning experience, a virtual experience with trail guides, fun for preschoolers, scavenger hunt ideas, educational videos and more resources are found at metroparks.com/virtual

Paint Creek Trail: The multi-city Paint Creek Trail in Oakland County is open, but the staff is working remotely, according to social media posts. The nearly 9-mile trail is mostly paved with crushed limestone. Leashed dogs, and in some places horses are allowed on the trail. Visit paintcreektrail.org for parking and access locations. 

Downtown Plymouth: Many restaurants in this suburban neighborhood square are open for carry-out and curbside pick-up service. The area is outfitted with many free public parking areas for bikes and cars, plus a fountain, parks and walking trails. downtownplymouth.org

Taylor Conservatory: More than seven acres of land with gardens, trails and nature, which was named on a list of 12 beautiful botanical gardens in the state by Pure Michigan. Open dawn til dusk. Free. 22314 Northline, Taylor. (734) 383-5871 or taylorconservatory.org.

Sycamore Hills Golf Course: While many golf courses have delayed their spring openings, some are open, including this Macomb facility. Golf carts are being sanitized before and after every use. 48787 North Avenue, Macomb. Call (586) 598-9500 ext. 1 to book a tee time.  

Matthaei Botanical Gardens: The buildings, conservatory, gardens and gift shop are all closed due to virus concerns, but the trails are at both Mattaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum (1610 Washington Heights) are open for foot traffic. Parking at Matthaei is temporary free, too. 1800 N. Dixboro, Ann Arbor. mbgna.umich.edu


Twitter: @melodybaetens