Ann Arbor Parks for Splashing

Ann Arbor Parks for Splashing

While there are plenty of great pool options in and around Ann Arbor, warm temperatures can happen before they open for the summer or after they close. Fortunately, there are several parks and playgrounds that have creeks, rivers, or lakes that can be visited year round. This list includes only locations without a vehicle admission fee. Note: None of these locations have lifeguards. Use your own judgement and properly supervise your kids.


Argo Park

The Argo Cascades offer kayaking and tubing as the Huron River bypasses the Argo Dam. The canoe livery is typically open late April to early October, but you can always bring your own tube, kayak, or canoe. Even if you don’t plan to tube or kayak, there are shallow pools near the rock jetties that are perfect for splashing.

Argo Cascades - Wednesday Activity Review - Two Drops

At a Glance

Address: 1055 Longshore Dr, Ann Arbor
Water Source: Huron River
Activity:
Tubing – bring your own or rent from Argo Livery
Recommended Age: 8+. The Cascades are deeper than other locations on our list



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Plymouth Parkway Park

A small creek runs through Plymouth Parkway Park and there is a great section for wading near the playground. Check out our Playground Profile for more information on the playground.

Ann Arbor's Plymouth Park - Creek

At a Glance

Address: 1100 Plymouth Road
Water Source: Creek
Activity:
Wading
Recommended Age: 3+ – Water is shallow and slow moving.



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Mill Pond Park in Saline

Saline’s Mill Pond Park is right on Mill Pond. I don’t recommend the full pond for wading, but the creek that connects to Mill Pond is perfect for wading. At the Saline Celtic Festival, they run a rubber duck race in the creek. The creek is nice and shallow with plenty of rocks for climbing to provide a challenge

Mill Pond Park - Wading in the Creek

At a Glance

Address: 565 W Bennett St, Saline
Water Source: Mill Pond & Creek
Activity:
Wading
Recommended Age:
All ages. The river is usually shallow enough for even babies to get their feet wet.



Island Park

Ann Arbor’s Island Park is on the Huron River. There are shallow areas with slow moving water that are perfect for kids to wade with supervision. Instead of heading for the Island, stay on the shore and walk to the bend. There is a nice sandy/rocky area with a gentle slope down to the water. We’ve floated from Argo Cascades to Island Park and exited the river here. The river is shallower and slower between the park entrance and the island than on the far side of the island.

Island Park Playground Profile - Crossing the River

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At a Glance

Address: 1420 Island Dr, Ann Arbor
Water Source: Huron River splits around the Island
Activity:
Wading, Tubing exit from Argo
Recommended Ages: Ages 5+.



Gallup Park

The new Centennial Playground at Gallup Park has a small water feature and is also right on a slow moving section of the Huron River. However, it is not the best section for wading. Gallup Park has a canoe livery and boat docks. They rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats.

Playground for Splashing - Gallup Pond Dock by Centennial Playgorund

At a Glance

Address: 3000 Fuller Rd
Water Source: Huron River, Playground Water Feature, Youth Fishing Pond
Activity:
Gallup Canoe Livery, Boat Launches, Fishing
Recommended Ages: 1+ – Children under one are not permitted in rental boats



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Mill Creek Park North in Dexter

New to our list is Mill Creek Park North in Dexter. I visited it in June 2021 and will have a playground review coming.

Where the park runs along the river there are shallow areas for wading. There are some small drops in the area which result in a faster flow than some other parks on the list. However, it is a great place to cool off. You can also move further up-river and find shaded areas under the bridge to wade. See our playground profile of Mill Creek North for more details on the park.

Mill Creek North Park Wading Entrance

At a Glance

Address:  8140 Main St, Dexter
Water Source: Mill Creek
Activity:
Wading, Fishing
Recommended Age: 2+



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Parker Mill Park

Parker Mill Park is a Washtenaw County park east of Dixboro Rd along Fleming Creek and the Huron River. The park features walking trails, a historic grist mill that is open for public tours on select fall Sundays, and more. Kids can splash in Fleming Creek. From the main park entrance, follow the path past the mills to the creek. It is shallow enough for wading and there is a hand operated water pump that will run through drains, over rocks, and into the creek. Kids can play with the pump, water in the chutes, or proceed down to wade in the creek.

Parks for Splashing - Parker Mill - Pump down to river

The shared use trail along the creek connects to Gallup Park. If you plan to walk or bike from Gallup Park, it was 4 miles round trip walk from the parking lot by the youth fishing pond to the Parker Mill pump and back to the parking lot. Parker Mill also has it’s own walking trails. The Sugarbush Trail is a natural surface trail near the splashing area (0.2 miles). The Hoyt G Post Trail is a 1.2 mile boardwalk over the wetlands.

At a Glance

Address: 4650 Geddes Rd, Ann Arbor
Water Source: Fleming Creek
Activity:
Water Pump, Water Chutes, Wading
Recommended Age: All Ages. The water pump and chute allows all ages to participate. The creek is shallow.


Other Suggestions

What parks do you like to head to for some splashing on hot days? Some of the Metro Parks and Independence Lake have wading/swimming areas. However, these have a vehicle admission fee (either annual or daily).

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