Kensington Metropark of Oakland and Livingston County, Michigan
Photos by Phil Seng:
Over 25 miles long.
From Detroit, take I-96 west to Exit 151 or Exit 153. Large signs at both exits direct you to park entrances.
More than 1,200 acres of water are nestled among the rolling, wooded hills of Kensington Metropark. Part of this park is highly developed and highly used, but the nature study area has been tailored for wildlife viewing. There are seven hiking trails that radiate from the nature center throughout the wetlands, forests, and fields on the site. The Chickadee Loop (1 mile) and Fox Trail (1/2 mile) are the most rustic of the trails. A golf course provides cross-country skiing in winter.
If you like viewing white-tailed deer, this is the place to come. Deer are very likely to be observed during any season or time of day. Look for them in open areas along park roads—Route 2 is especially good. For a more natural experience, stalk quietly along the nature trails in the morning or evening. The sandhill crane, pileated woodpecker, and Acadian flycatcher are a few of the 253 bird species that have been identified within Kensington. Wildwing Trail is the longest of the trails (2.5 miles), and it includes a boardwalk that takes you right by an island in Wildwing Lake where great blue herons nest. It’s easiest to see these large wading birds from the boardwalk in April and early May.
This trail also runs near an osprey “hacking tower,” where 23 osprey chicks were released from 1998 to 2002. Go to the “Osprey Watch of Southeast Michigan” web site (www.owsem.org) for more information on this important effort to help restore the population of “fish hawks.” If you like to see fish, the carp at Kensington are usually very easy to see from the lakeshore near the Nature Center and the boardwalk along Wildwing Trail. Kensington is also home to over 300 kinds of wildflowers.
For a little more “pampered” kind of wildlife viewing, consider booking passage on the Island Queen II excursion boat. This passenger boat makes leisurely trips around the lake and can be chartered. Kayaks can also be rented if you prefer quieter transportation.
Family interpretive programs are offered on the weekends year-round, and these include frog walks, nature hikes, and “Astronomy at the Beach,” where you can learn more about celestial bodies after a day of wildlife viewing.
Facilities and Opportunities:
- Restrooms – At all picnic areas.
- Trails – Seven trails, from ½-mile to 2 miles long. (Easy). Interpretive signs.
- Picnic – 17 picnic areas, 6 with playgrounds, some can be reserved.
- Visitor center – Open year-round, 10a to 5p; 1-5p on Mondays.
- Cross-country skiing – Available on golf course. Mostly easy, a few trails are moderate.
- Boat ramp – 2 boat ramps (see map). Boat rentals are available.
- Restaurant – At golf course and farm center. Concessions available at beaches.
- Drinking water – Available throughout the park, wherever there are restrooms.
- Fishing – Bluegill, walleye, perch, crappie in Kensington Lake. 10mph max speed on lake. Bait available nearby, but not on site.
- Entry Fee - Motor vehicle permit required for entry.
- Bicycling – 8 miles of paved trails. Joins with nearby Island Lake Recreation Area trails as well.
- Barrier free – most of the park is barrier free. Fox Trail is NOT.
Return to Oakland County, MI Trails Page
Return to Livingston County, MI Trails Page
Permission and information sources are from Contributers to this Web Site, the Department of Natural Resources, Michigan.gov, National Park Service,
and the USDA Forest Service.