From looking to beat summer heat by staying inside to enjoying the outdoor activities Oakland County has to offer, residents and visitors discover a multitude of active recreational options for any age and lifestyle.
Take hiking and biking. Neither costs much. And global hiking expert Jim DuFresne of Clarkston says Oakland County is loaded with trail choices.
“Michigan has phenomenal trails,” he says. “It’s a great way to escape. No matter where you live in Michigan … there’s a great trail.”
In Oakland County, DuFresne recommends Wilderness Trail in Holly Recreation Area, a 5-mile loop; Spring Lake in Independence Oaks County Park; and Proud Lake Recreation Area at the southwest corner of Oakland County.
Oakland County also has one of the highest number of golf courses in the state — nearly 60 public and private. Some of the best in Michigan can be found here, ranging from low-cost daily fee courses to high-end public and private clubs that have hosted tournaments for high school, college, Golf Association of Michigan and Michigan PGA golfers.
Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills has hosted the Ryder Cup, PGA Championship and the U.S. Open six times. Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club in Clarkston has been named one of the top 100 courses in the country by Golf Digest.
Oakland County Parks and Recreation maintains five excellent 18-hole public golf courses: Lyon Oaks, Springfield Oaks, Glen Oaks, White Lake Oaks and Red Oaks, which also offers FootGolf.
Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac is the largest indoor soccer facility in America, making it feel like you’re outdoors with its spaciousness. It’s so expansive that model airplane pilots utilize the 72-foot roof heights to fly radio-controlled units indoors one morning per week.
It’s definitely the place to be for indoor soccer, with four regulation full-size soccer fields and a fifth for the growing sport of lacrosse. There’s also an outdoor field. Professional teams to adult and youth leagues utilize the facility year-round.
Rock climbing is also a sport that can take place inside or outside. Indoors at Planet Rock in Madison Heights or Lifetime Fitness’ Novi and Commerce Township locations, opportunities abound for everyone from beginners to those in it for the competition. Planet Rock has summer camps for kids from ages 4 to 15, women’s-only climb times, and speed-climbing competitions some weekends.
“It’s a great sport,” says Kurt Meister of Novi. “There are many different age groups and skills just having fun together. Lots of people can do it at all levels. You can almost always come away saying you had a good workout.”
The HUB Stadium in Auburn Hills features axe throwing and “bombowling.” Axe throwing looks like darts on steroids and is highly regulated for those ages 16 and above, with a trained staff person supervising at all times. Bombowling has two teams battle it out by throwing footballs at the other team’s 10 pins to try knocking them down first.
Auto lovers flock to the M1 Concourse south of downtown Pontiac, a private garage community that surrounds a major league test track. Public events include a Cars and Coffee event Saturday mornings from 8-11 a.m. that draws anywhere from 500 to 1,000 cars and their owners.
“It’s mostly car enthusiasts and like-minded people that hang out and talk to others about their cars, get some free coffee and donuts and enjoy each other’s company,” says Ken Cox, M1 marketing and media manager. “It’s a big car show gathering.”
The facility occasionally offers a family driving clinic on a safe, closed course aimed mostly at teaching teens defensive maneuver skills that cannot be learned or practiced on public roads.
“It’s designed for getting teens comfortable behind the wheel in dealing with real-world and panic, emergency situations, stopping, lane changes — things like that, which cannot be experienced during normal driver’s training,” Cox says. “It adds to the confidence behind the wheel for young drivers.”
This article, by Tom Lang, first appeared in the 2019 edition of Oakland County Prosper magazine.