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Saturday February 24, 2018
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>> >> City Guide >> Recreation >> Riverfront Parks

City Guide

Riverfront Parks

City of Ann Arbor Parks & Recreation, Cobblestone Farm, 2781 Packard. (734) 794-6230. Manages nearly 2,100 acres of parkland and 14 recreation facilities. Call to reserve pavilions or to hold special events in city parks. Register online for classes, camps, and programs. Scholarships and discounted passes to pools, rinks, and classes are available for city residents who qualify.

Smoking is banned in all Ann Arbor city parks with the exception of Cobblestone Farm and the Huron Hills and Leslie Park golf courses. For an indexed Google map of all 159 Ann Arbor parks, see


All anglers are advised to consult the Michigan Department of Natural Resources fishing regulations online at All those age 17 & over must have a valid fishing license. Yearly fee is $26/residents; $76/non-residents; 24-hour fishing license $10; 72-hour fishing license $30. Licenses are sold at Dick's Sporting Goods (3120 Lohr), Dunham's Sports (217 N. Maple in Maple Village & 2850 Washtenaw), and three Meijer locations (3145 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd., 3825 Carpenter, & 5645 Jackson).

Authorities advise caution in eating certain fish from Michigan waters, including the Great Lakes. Toxic chemicals in some fish may be harmful if those fish are eaten too often; women of childbearing age and children under age 15 are especially vulnerable. Up-to-date advisories are on the Michigan Department of Community Health hotline (800-648-6942) and at the department's website,

City fishing. The serene ponds above the Huron River's dams offer great fishing. The Huron contains largemouth and smallmouth bass, rock bass, crappies, bluegills, carp, pike, catfish, trout, sunfish, and some walleyes. Best spots include Barton Dam (off Huron River Dr.), Gallup Park, Olson Park, and Argo Dam. Red Fish Blue Fish Teach Kids to Fish program each June at Gallup. Live bait is available at Argo Park and Gallup Park canoe liveries. Gallup Park offers a free youth fishing pond.

Area fishing. At the 4-acre, Spring Pond at Rolling Hills County Park (734-484-9676), visitors may fish from the bank or 2 disability-friendly fishing piers (catch and release only). At Spring Valley Trout Farm (12190 Island Lake Rd., Dexter; 734-426-4772) you can catch your own farm-raised catfish or rainbow trout; all equipment is provided, no license is required; fish cleaned, iced, and packaged, or you can cook it on site (grills provided); group outings available. Numerous small lakes, many only a short drive away, offer good fishing; call the Huron-Clinton Metroparks (810-227-2757), the Waterloo State Recreation Area (734-475-8307), or the Pinckney State Recreation Area (734-426-4913). The Michigan Fishing Hotline, (855-777-0908), has fishing and lake information for the entire state.

Riverfront Parks

Ann Arbor boasts several miles of diverse parks along the Huron River. Connected by trails, they provide the perfect setting for a long scenic walk or bike ride, as well as the chance to stop and enjoy activities ranging from bird watching and fishing to disc golf and swimming. Here's an overview, downstream from northwest to southeast.

Located on the northwest side of town, the Bird Hills Nature Area is the city's largest park, a favorite of hikers for its unpaved wooded trails through steep hills and ravines. To the east, across the river and Huron River Drive, the low-lying Barton Nature Area contains several different ecosystems, including prairie, emergent marshland, wet meadows, and former farmlands, and is home to the century-old Barton Dam. To the east stretches Bandemer Park, frequented by many for its 9-hole disc golf course, dirt bike jump course, and views of Argo Pond. The pond is circled by a trail connecting Bandemer Park with Argo Park to the east. A pedestrian boardwalk and then a dirt trail follow the eastern shoreline south through dense willows and oaks to the Argo watersports livery off Longshore Dr. On the west side of the pond, the paved Border-to-Border Trail (B2B) runs from Bandemer to Argo Dam and follows the Huron River all the way to Ypsilanti. A recent addition to Argo Park, the wildly popular Argo Cascades are a bypass channel featuring a series of nine narrow drops and pools that carry paddlers and inner-tubers from Argo Pond down to the main river just upstream of the Broadway Bridges.

The B2B Trail goes under the bridges and passes through the picturesque Riverside Park, located on a relatively shallow portion of river suitable for fly-fishing. Downstream, off Maiden Ln., there are many inviting outdoor tables, grills, and a stunning Greek Revival picnic shelter at Island Park. In the woods at the back of the park, an old dirt road, now a walking path, ascends to the Cedar Bend Nature Area, a high, forested slope (also accessible from Broadway via Cedar Bend Dr.) whose view of the city's skyline is partially obscured by oaks and hickories.

Across the river from Island Park, Fuller Park bustles with people playing on its soccer fields, large playground, and in its outdoor pool and water slide. From here, the B2B Trail runs east along Fuller Rd. and around the U-M's Mitchell Field and softball diamonds, leading to Gallup Park. The city's most popular park, it has three playgrounds - two renovated and one new. The east end location is being renovated into a universal-use playground, grills, tables, and fishing pier with a September 17, 2017 grand opening. Canoe and paddleboat livery, and over 3 miles of bucolic trails and arched footbridges join a series of small islands. A pedestrian walkway connects Gallup with its quiet neighbor to the west, the Furstenberg Nature Area. The most ecologically diverse park in Ann Arbor, it contains several rare species of flora native to wetlands, woodlands, prairie, and oak savanna.

Teeming with roller bladers, joggers, and cyclists, the B2B Trail continues from Gallup Park east to Parker Mill County Park, where there is a historic grist and cider mill, and then Forest Nature Area, a wet forest of black maples, hackberries, and rock elms traversed by a boardwalk trail with interpretative signs.

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