7 Best Hiking and Nature Trails Around Ann Arbor, Michigan

  |     |   Outdoor Activities

Home to 159 parks and located at the heart of an impressive lineup of state recreation areas and open spaces, Ann Arbor offers countless opportunities to opt outside. From biking to fishing, we’ve got it all! But if you’re looking to get out for a hike, there are plenty of trails and Metro Parks within easy driving distance, allowing for a quick and easy escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

To help get you out to see some of the region’s best scenery, we rounded up some of our favorite trails in the area. Whether you want a quick trip just up the road or an adventure an hour away, every single one promises views, challenges, and a breath of fresh air!

 

Argo Nature Center

Approximately 5 Minutes From Ann Arbor

Argo is one of Ann Arbor’s most popular parks thanks in large part to the boat launch along the Huron River and the Argo Canoe Livery, which is open for rentals from April through October. But this spot isn’t just great for its water features—hikers also love adventuring here. The park’s lush 22 acres include a fairly wide, unpaved trail that runs the length of the park along the river and offers spectacular views of the water.

 

University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum

Approximately 5 Minutes From Ann Arbor

Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two educational and environmental spaces on the U-M campus. The botanical gardens include 11 outdoor areas full of bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials, and more, and if you want to head inside, you can enjoy the year-round indoor conservatory filled with plants from around the world. The arboretum spans miles of trails and land with impressive collections of both native and exotic trees and shrubs.

 

Barton Nature Area

Approximately 7 Minutes From Ann Arbor

This 102-acre park just north of downtown Ann Arbor skirts the Huron River and dips into wooded areas and fields. The park is divided into two sections: the larger is known as the oxbow and connects to Argo Nature Center while the smaller is known as Foster and is accessible only by boat from Barton Pond.

For a great hike, we recommend the short, half-mile main trail in the Oxbow, which is wood-chipped and connects the two bridges, offering interesting plant species and wildlife.

 

Bird Hills Nature Center

Approximately 7 Minutes From Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Parks & Recreation

At just over 161 acres, the Bird Hills Nature Area is Ann Arbor’s largest park. Though undeveloped, the area offers five different hilly trailheads and is a haven for hikers right in town! In addition to interesting parkland, this spot is also packed full of history. Old photos indicate that the property was logged in the late 1800s. Some remnants of the park’s agricultural past are still visible today. For more information on the area’s history, click here!

 

Dhu Varren Woods Nature Area

Approximately 10 Minutes From Ann Arbor

A 13-acre park located on the north side of Ann Arbor, Dhu Varren is “the” place to go when looking for a nice hike featuring birding, a wide variety of trees, and a wetland area. The woods, for the most part, are open and a trail circles the park. But there is also a small wetland that connects to the larger Foxfire South wetland area.

 

The Border-to-Border Trail

Approximately 15 Minutes From Ann Arbor

Developed in partnership with Huron River Greenway, the Border-to-Border Trail is a non-motorized pathway that connects cities, parks, neighborhoods, and trails throughout Washtenaw County. Eventually, the trail will span 70 total miles, perfect whether you’re looking for a short jaunt, a long hike, or a leisurely bike ride.

 

Cherry Hill Nature Preserve

Approximately 15 Minutes From Ann Arbor

Cherry Hill is a lovely 160-acre preserve near Ypsilanti that offers easy, short walking paths through wetlands, meadows, and woods. Our favorite trail is the Cherry Hill Nature Preserve Loop, a 1.6-mile trail that includes boardwalks, plus grassy, dirt, and paved bridge walkways. Hikers have mentioned that this area gets very muddy after it rains and in early spring.

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