Sterling State Park, River Raisin, Michigan

A great excursion from Sterling State Park begins at the River Raisin Heritage Trail in Monroe, Michigan. This flat, paved trail provides an invigorating hike, wildlife viewing, and a visit to the River Raisin National Battlefield Park.

This sign for the River Raisin Heritage Trail is located just outside of Sterling State Park in Monroe, Michigan. This section of the trail runs parallel to East Elm Avenue. Just a few steps away is the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. This is a fun place to get to know more about the War of 1812.

This section of the River Raisin Heritage Trail is inside Sterling State Park. This flat, paved trail provides a 6 to 7 mile round trip from the Sterling campground to the River Raisin visitor center. Along the way there is an observation ladder, benches, and informative signs. These images were taken on August 8, 2015.

The River Raisin, where this trail is, is very close to Detroit and thus was very important to keep in the new United States. The British, Canadians, and Chief Tecumseh’s confederates, however, marched in to claim this area for their own during the War of 1812, during January 1813.

This is the observation ladder along the Sterling State Park hike/bike trail, heading toward the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. This ladder offers a great view but sways a little in the wind. Just out of view on the right in the dense foliage are many large poison sumac plants with their red cones.

This is the view from the Sterling State Park observation ladder. The view here looks southward toward Monroe. This trail is tucked into a little oasis of greenery, surrounded by Interstate 75 and Detroit. The Ford Motor Co.’s huge River Rouge automotive plant is just a few miles north in Detroit.

The hike/bike trail wasn't designed solely just to keep visitors moving quickly toward the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. There are also nice spots to stop and relax, or maybe even to fish. There is interpretive signage here out-of-view, to help anglers make the most of any stop here.

While not part of Sterling State Park, this area too is a nice spot to stop and perhaps at least get out from under the sun. It’s clean and cool here. There is a railroad track to the left out-of-view, but may not be much used as there were no flange marks observed at time of viewing.

Right past the Detroit Avenue sign is the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. The address is 1403 East Elm Avenue in Monroe, Michigan. On January 22, 1813, British and allied forces routed the ill-prepared American forces. Out of about 1000 men, only a few dozen Americans survived the battle.

This image shows a replica sled-mounted cannon at the Visitor’s Center that was used by the British against the Americans. The center is open daily from 9-5:00. Inside are a lot of fun things to look at. The British were well-clothed in wool and well-armed. The Americans, not so much.

There are children’s activities at Battlefield Park during July and August on select days from 10 am-noon. Descendants of French-Canadians have a genealogy event in mid-August. And believe it or not, the U.S. Navy has a rock band and sponsors an event called Rockin’ the Raisin in late August.

The city of Detroit fell to British and American Indian forces on August 16, 1812. The Battle of the River Raisin (also known as the Battle of Frenchtown) began on January 22, 1813 and ended in disaster for the Americans. General William Henry Harrison later retook Detroit in September 1813.

Now that both Detroit and Lake Erie are secure from the British and their allies, it’s time to head back to Sterling State Park. There might be nature activities for the kids, smores at the campsite fire rings, and maybe some night fishing. But there surely will be griddle cakes in the morning with hot coffee.

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