Recreation

Ann Arbor works hard, plays hard. Whether it’s competitive fervor or a solitary stroll you’re looking for, Ann Arbor offers a superb variety of recreational opportunities.

For information on children’s recreation and sports, see Youth Sports and Activities for Kids in the Children section of this guide. Fees, unless otherwise noted, are current as of summer 2021.

S at the end of a listing indicates special programs or discounts for seniors.

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Area fishing

At the 4-acre, Spring Pond at Rolling Hills County Park (734-484-9676), visitors may fish from the bank or two 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. springvalleytroutfarm.com. 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.

City of Ann Arbor Parks & Recreation

(734) 794-6230

2781 Packard, Cobblestone Farm

Manages nearly 2,100 acres of parkland and 15 recreation facilities. Call to reserve pavilions or to hold special events in city parks. Register online at a2gov.org/parksregister for classes, camps, and programs. Scholarships and discounted passes to pools, rinks, and classes are available for city residents who qualify. a2gov.org/parks

East Side

(734) 971-6337

County Farm Park offers 141 acres of lush fields, bush-covered areas, and forest lowlands, home to rabbits, woodchucks, pheasant, and numerous songbird species. It has a playground, picnic pavilions, and three loop trails; the longest trail is 1.4 miles and features 18 exercise stations placed along its length. washtenaw.org/421/County-Farm-Park Buhr Park, 2751 Packard. (734) 794-6234. This expansive park adjacent to the city’s Cobblestone Farm has ball diamonds, a pool, and a covered outdoor ice rink (home in summer to roller derby matches). a2gov.org/buhr

Huron-Clinton Metroparks

(734) 426-8211

Nearby metroparks include Delhi (3902 E. Delhi), a handy spot to launch a canoe; Dexter-Huron (6535 Huron River Dr.), a wooded 123-acre area; and Hudson Mills (8801 North Territorial), with 1,549 acres including golf, disc golf, and trails for biking, hiking, and cross-country skiing. Metropark vehicle entrance fees: $10/day, $40/year ($29/year for age 62 & up). metroparks.com S

Independence Lake County Park

(734) 449-4437

3200 Jennings, Whitmore Lake

Swimming, boating, disc golf, picnicking and playgrounds, fishing, hiking, biking, rollerblading, and sand volleyball. Launch site for canoes, kayaks, and motorized boats with ten or less horsepower. A variety of park programs and events offered throughout the year. Blue Heron Bay spray play facility includes water play structures, geysers, jets, and slides. Blue Heron Bay admission: $4/Washtenaw County residents ($5/nonresidents); after 5 p.m. non-holiday weekends, $3/residents ($4/nonresidents). Vehicle entrance fee: county residents $6/day, seniors (age 62 & up) $3, non-residents $10, seniors $6. Resident annual fee $30/year, non-resident $45. washtenaw.org/424/Independence-Lake-Park

North Side

The city park system abounds in wild pockets. These range in size from the Hannah Nature Area, a quaint 1-acre wooded site at the end of Bath St. just west of Seventh St., to the sprawling Marshall Nature Area, 79 acres of ridges, hollows, and low-lying meadows east of Domino’s Farms. Located between the Leslie Park Golf Course and Upland Dr., the Leslie Woods Nature Area is a mature woodland that contains some of the largest oaks and hickories within the park system. Another oak-hickory woods, the Bluffs Nature Area above North Main St. features steeply wooded slopes and trails popular among mountain bikers. Two obscure entrances on Miller west of Newport drop off immediately into the Miller Nature Area, a densely overgrown valley. Many small trails switch direction so quickly that disorientation can set in; plunge ahead and you’ll eventually emerge in a quiet neighborhood on Arborview.

The 54-acre Olson Park, at Dhu Varren Rd. and Pontiac Tr., honors former Ann Arbor parks director Ron Olson, who went on to head Michigan’s state park system. Transformed from a gravel pit, Olson includes wetlands, woods, Traver Creek, and Traver Pond, providing a habitat for many species of native plants, butterflies, songbirds, and migratory waterfowl. It has a half-mile paved path surrounding Traver Pond, a basketball court, a dog park, soccer fields, a playground, a picnic shelter, and a dense net of mountain bike trails.

Pinckney Recreation Area

(734) 426-4913

8555 Silver Hill, Pinckney

This 11,000-acre park north of Chelsea has many lakes for swimming, boating, canoeing, and fishing; modern and rustic campgrounds; and trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and birding. Hunting in season, snowmobiles permitted on a 4-inch base in designated areas. Recreation Passport required: state residents $12/year with license plate renewal, or $17/year at park gate. ($6 for motorcycles with license plate renewal, and $11/year at park gate); nonresidents $9/day, $34/year. michigan.gov/pinckney

Pittsfield Township Parks

This township directly south of Ann Arbor has a 626-acre nature area at its center: the Pittsfield Preserve, north of Michigan Ave. east of Platt, includes more than four miles of nature trails, a great blue heron rookery, buttonbush swamp, and numerous wetlands, mature woods, and meadows. Pittsfield also operates Hickory Woods Park, 5415 Crane, with trails, restrooms, and a playground structure; Lillie Park, 4365 Platt, just south of Ellsworth, with 3 1/2 miles of ADA-accessible nature trails, grills, pavilions, electrical outlet, restrooms, soccer fields, boardwalk, and 2 playground structures; Marsh View Meadows, 300 E. Textile, with trails, grills, pavilion, restrooms, and playground structure; Montibeller Park, 4305 Ellsworth, with 1.5 miles of nature trails, grills, pavilion, restrooms, ball diamonds, playground structures, and tennis courts (no handicap accessible route to restroom); Pittsfield Township Park, 701 W. Ellsworth, with grills, pavilion, restroom, ball diamond, playground structure; and Wooley Park, 1315 Textile Rd. with .84 miles of trails, playground structures, disc golf, and basketball court.

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. 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 (including a “universal use” one designed to accommodate people with a range of disabilities), grills, tables, a fishing pier, and a canoe, kayak, and paddleboat livery. More than 3 miles of bucolic trails and arched footbridges join a series of small islands, and 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. A new branch extends all the way to the U-M’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens (1800 N. Dixboro, 734-647-7600, providing non-motorized access to its conservatory, gardens, and pathways.

Rolling Hills County Park

(734) 484-9676

7660 Stony Creek

This 363-acre county park has fields, woodlots, wetlands, a pond, a restored prairie with opportunities for bird and wildlife observation, and paved and soft trails for walking, biking, and in-line skating. Fishing, disc golf, a sledding hill, and cross-country skiing. Vehicle entrance fees: county residents $6/day ($3 for age 62 & over), $30/year; nonresidents $10/day ($6 for age 62 & up), $45/year. Additional fees for the Rolling Hills Family Water Park. washtenaw.org/607/Rolling-Hills-County-Park S