Belle Isle State Park – A Stepping Stones program location

The Outreach Stepping Stones program is designed to take urban youth ages nine and older to place them in an outdoor setting that incorporates many new and interesting activities.

In this final article in a series discussing Stepping Stone locations, Michigan State University Extension will highlight Belle Isle State Park. A program by Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Stepping Stones promotes youth outdoor education. A goal is for youth to return every year to continue their outdoor education and potentially gain experience working in outdoor sciences. The Stepping Stones staff is the first step when it comes to encouraging outdoor activity and trying something new.

Belle Isle State Park, owned by the City of Detroit and managed as a state park by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources since 2013 on a 30-year lease, is the State of Michigan’s 102nd State Park. There are 150 acres of wooded land and a beautiful coastline where you can see both Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The 987-acre is the largest city-owned park in the United States. This State Park was once home to The Belle Isle Zoo, Riding Stables and The Detroit Boat Club.

Every year on Belle Isle, the Detroit Indy Grand Prix is held. The race was held annually between 1992 and 2001. It was discontinued for several years, but resumed operation in 2007. Activities and sites on Belle Isle include bike riding, hiking, golfing, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and the Belle Isle Aquarium.

In addition to these offers, Stepping Stones offers various programs at this park for inner city youth who do not have the opportunity to get outside on a regular basis in their respective cities. The program introduces skills, safety precautions and fun associated with fishing, archery and camping, among other activities. On your next trip to Detroit, be sure to visit the unique environment of Belle Isle State Park!

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