The West Bloomfield Trail is yet another one of the old railroad corridors that has been converted to trails. One of the so called “rail-trails”, that Michigan’s got miles and miles of. This one stretches a short distance of 6.8 miles from Haggerty Rd to Sylvan Manor Park. It meanders through cities of West Bloomfield, Orchard Lake, Keego Harbor and Sylvan Lake.
As far as a bike trail, it would not be worth mentioning (because of the short distance), if:
- One – had it not been connected at both ends to other trails – Clinton River Trail at the east end and Michigan Air Line Trail at the west end.
- Two – had it not been a part of new Lake-to-Lake Route #1 trail.
It is a limestone/dirt trail, and in reality, it is more of a dirt trail because it’s been a while since they put a new layer of limestone on it. The trail is fairly smooth though.
It has only two trailheads with restrooms, besides parking lots. These two also have air pumps and some basic bike tools. One is located at the eastern end of the trail in Sylvan Manor Park. The second one, is approximately in the middle at Arrowhead Rd. At the western end of the trail, at Haggerty Rd, there is no more parking lot that used to be there. However, there are few bigger stores, restaurants and bars with parking lots nearby.
There is one unofficial place where you can park your vehicle next to the trail. It is Crosswinds Mall on Orchard Lake Rd. I have seen people riding bicycles from its parking lots.
This is one of the more scenic rail-trails in Detroit area. Most of the trail goes through residential wooded area. Then, when going from east to west and you cross Orchard Lake Rd last time, so around mile marker 41, you enter the area of some wood ponds/lakes. Further west, you will be riding next to the West Bloomfield Woods Nature Preserve. At one point you will notice a permanently mounted spotting scope. I don’t know, if it is still the case, but years ago, you could watch nesting herons in trees across the pond.
There are also few miles of hiking trails. So, if you need a break, you can go and explore the woods on foot.
Immediately after, you arrive at the Central Trailhead at Arrowhead Rd. From there, when you continue west, you go through more wooded area with more lakes. Then the last section of the trail, gets more residential.
When you get to Haggerty Rd, you noticed that the trail continues on the west side of the road. This is the new Michigan Air Line Trail. It continues west and then connects to Huron Valley Trail and more trails further west.
At the opposite end, at the Sylvan Manor Park, the trail continues east and turns into Clinton River Trail, which in turn connects to other rail-trails, like Paint Creek Trail and Macomb Orchard Trail.
The trail is officially open from 8:00 AM to dusk.
You have to be careful when crossing some of the busy roads, especially Orchard Lake Rd. Don’t expect the cars to stop. Most drivers will speed by, not even paying any attention to you waiting to cross.
The West Bloomfield Trail is a great biking trail in combination with other connected trails. It allows a cyclist to go for a long relaxed ride, practically in the city, but appearing like he/she is miles away, surrounded by nature.
If you choose one of the WBT trailheads as a starting point, go on a ride further west on Michigan Air Line Trail, Huron Valley Trail…
If you go east, follow the Clinton River Trail and then Paint Creek Trail or Macomb Orchard Trail.
Scenery (0-boring, 10-breathtaking): 6.5 (going mostly through wooded areas, with some scenic lakes, and wooded residential areas)
Easy-to-Follow (0-no maps, often broken into section without clear directions, 10-well marked with maps showing current location): 8.0 (no printed maps, but posted maps available in few places; trail well marked and easy to follow)
Food Access (0-no food facilities at all, 10-food available every few miles): 8.0 (many choices along, but not immediately of the trail)
Restrooms (0-none, 10-moderen restrooms every few miles): 6.0 (two main trailheads have portas)
Surface Quality: 7.0 (it is a dirt/gravel trail with fairly smooth surface)
Accessibility: 7.0 (for such a short trail enough parking areas to allow for fairly easy access; the only minus here is the lack of the parking lot at the western end.)
Usage (0-not used at all, 10-extremely popular): 9.0 (very high usage, especially close to Central Trailhead, and since the trail is fairly short – not much less along the rest of it)
Hills (0-completely flat, 10-Extremely hilly): 1.0 (hardly noticeable inclines and descends here and there)
Sun/Shade (0-no shade at all, 10-competely shaded): 4.0 (mix of some shade and open areas)