For many kids visiting the playground is a highlight of a walk in a park. With warmer temperatures and playgrounds still closed, walking is a great park activity. We have pulled together a list of Ann Arbor Area Walks that don’t include a playground. With these walks you won’t have to disappoint the kids who can see the playground but can’t use it.
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Considerations When Planning a Walk
Taking a walk or bike ride is one of the exceptions to the general stay at home order. Still, it is better to stay closer to home for these trips for a variety of reasons.
Gas & Car Issues
Staying within walking distance or a short drive will limit your need to refill your gas tank and minimize the chance of an accident or car trouble. Before the stay at home order was put into effect, we attended my niece’s family birthday gathering a couple of hours away. Yes, we had to get gas, but the bigger issue was that the tire pressure monitoring system alerted us to an issue. So, we ended up having to take the car to the shop the next week.
My friend who owns Grand Rapids Kids, shared her thoughts on “Where Will you Pee?”. It sounds funny, but is a very good question when planning longer outings (or even short outings with young kids). Park restrooms are closed and restaurants are take-out only. That leaves grocery stores and gas stations as the only options…unless you are close to home.
On an easier note, remember to bring necessary supplies for your walks. Bring everyone in the family water and maybe a snack. Bring sunscreen or apply before leaving home. Consider whether you are likely to need bug spray in your walking destination.
For walks, I love this Chico Water Bottle Sling. My daughter’s class sold them as part of a fundraiser and they are wonderful. They hold a water bottle and have a slot for a cell phone (perfect for all those women’s clothes without pockets), and a smaller pocket on the strap that my car’s keyfob fits in. All 3 of us have them – check out my daughter sporting hers at Disney World in November..
Upcoming Sponsored Events
City of Ann Arbor Parks & Nature Areas
Bandemer Park, Argo Nature Area, and Barton Hills
Ann Arbor’s Bandemer Park and Argo Nature Area are on opposite sides of the Huron River with Barton Hills upriver. Bandemer has two parking areas, one on Lake Shore Dr accessible from Main St and one accessible from Whitmore Lake Rd. Argo has a parking area near the Livery (with the livery closed parking should be much easier than on a typical summer day). Barton Nature Area has a small parking area off Huron River Drive near Bird Hills Nature Area These are not the best option with strollers or wheelchairs since many of the paths are unpaved. We are waiting for warmer days (and nights) to bring my daughter’s inflatable kayak for some time on the river. She got it for Christmas and can’t wait to try it out.
Leslie Science & Nature Center
The grounds remain open at the Leslie Science & Nature Center. Stop by and visit the Raptor Enclosures and then take a walk through Black Pond Woods. Remember to avoid touching things and also to avoid the areas that are marked off due to high metals discovered in soil testing in 2019.
Other Nature Areas
Ann Arbor Parks has lots of other Nature Areas that are perfect for walks. Check out the list of Nature Areas on their website and make a plan to visit one. Or let us know on Facebook which is your favorite.
University of Michigan Walks
Nichols Arboretum or Matthaei Botanical Gardens
The Nichols Arboretum and Matthaei Botanical Gardens are still open for walking. I have heard that the trails at the Arb are not too crowded so you can maintain a safe social distance. Note, at Matthaei parking is currently free and only the trails are open. The children’s garden is not. If your children are familiar with the children’s garden, avoid that area or stick with the Arb.
Don’t be afraid to visit UM’s Campus to walk. There is plenty of space to walk both on central campus and on North Campus. On Central Campus, walk through the Diag, head up to Rackham, walk down to the Law Quad, walk by the outdoor art at the UMMA and visit the Pumas at the UMMNH.
North Campus offers plenty of options for walking. Make sure you have a UM parking pass, are parking in off hours, or feed the meter as needed. Walk through The Grove, around the buildings and head to The Wave Field.
Washtenaw County Parks
Parker Mill County Park
Washtenaw County’s Parker Mill County Park offers various walking trails and even a connection to Gallup Park if you are up for a longer walk. The park is accessible with parking lots on both Geddes Rd and Old Dixboro Rd. The park has paved paths, boardwalks, and gravel paths. Be sure to check the trail types if you have a stroller, wheel chair, or limited mobility before selecting which trail to take.
County Farm Park
Did you know there’s a second entrance to County Farm Park? Skip the main entrance near the playground on Platt Rd and park at the Medford Rd entrance.
If you take the Nature Trail through Britton Woods you will steer clear of the playground. You can also use portions of the other trails. Be sure to check out the trail map if you want to steer clear of the playground area.
Rolling Hills County Park & Independence Lake County Park
Rolling Hills and Independence Lake both offer extensive walking trails. However, the county has closed the parks to vehiculr access. If you live close enough to walk to either one they are great options.
Pittsfield Township Parks
Lillie Park North
Pittsfield Township’s Lillie Park is located at the southeast corner of Ellsworth and Platt Rd. It is split into North and South. Lillie Park North has a small parking lot accessible from Platt Rd and a 0.8 mile trail, and no playground. There are even more great paths at Lillie Park South. However, the parking area is near the playground. and they do not seem to be accessible from the trail at Lillie Park North.
This is a late addition to the list. I have always visited Pittsfield Preserve through Marsh View Meadows which has a playground at the trail entrance.. But, Pittsfield Preserve has several sections which also have other parking lots. There are lots on Textile Rd (east of Marshview Meadows), Morton Road, and Thomas Road.
Scio Township Parks & Preserves
There is a small parking lot for Sloan Preserve off of Baker Road. Walk through woods and along Mill Creek.
Other Preserves and Parks
The Scio Township website lists other Parks and preserves. However, it discusses future trails and plans for these preserves. Expect wild conditions at these parks
Other Ann Arbor Area Walks
Do you have other ideas of great playground-free walks in the Ann Arbor area?