Our favorite walks in the Ann Arbor area

Alex Dow Field at Nichols Arboretum (Photo: Michele Yanga)

ANN ARBOR – National Walking Day is the first Wednesday in April, which inspired us to create a guide to our favorite walks in and around Ann Arbor.

Boasting 161 parks, Ann Arbor is a haven for those who love a good stroll. Its seemingly endless outdoor spaces have trails and paved walkways for hikers, runners, cyclists and walkers to enjoy.

As the weather warms up and flowers emerge from the ground after a long winter, it’s the perfect time to head outside and take in some scenery.

Here’s a roundup of our favorite places to stretch our legs:

Gallup Park

According to the city of Ann Arbor, Gallup Park is the city’s most popular recreation area -- and it’s easy to see why. The 69-acre park is packed with things to do and see, including a 1.35 mile loop around Gallup Pond, a canoe livery, several play structures including the popular universal access playground and areas to grill and enjoy an event with loved ones.

Men race canoes in Gallup Pond in Ann Arbor on June 16, 2018. (Meredith Bruckner)

It’s a great place to see wildlife, including numerous species of native birds, turtles, fish and more. With four parking lots, it’s also easy to access by vehicle.

Read: Universal Access Playground open for all to play in Ann Arbor

A bridge leads to a natural path in Ann Arbor's Gallup Park. (Meredith Bruckner)

What we love most about Gallup Park is the loop around the pond. It is largely paved, except for some small islands that are connected by bridges. These tree-shaded sections make you forget you’re in a bustling college town, and depending on the time of year, you may see some goats doing some landscaping -- you read that right.

Gallup Park is located at 3000 Fuller Road.

For more information, visit the city’s Gallup Park website.

County Farm Park

Not far from Gallup Park is the beautiful 127-acre County Farm Park. Owned and maintained by Washtenaw County, the park features a farm-themed playground, more than three miles of natural and paved trails, a colorful perennial garden and a community garden with plots to rent.

A flower seen at the entrance of County Farm Park in Ann Arbor. (Meredith Bruckner)

It also boasts a Fitness Trail with 18 stations to help you get your blood flowing.

Families love to frequent the park, as do dog walkers.

Throughout the park’s walking trails, signs are posted to help you navigate the routes.

County Farm Park is located at 2230 Platt Road.

For more information, visit the county’s County Farm Park website.

Nichols Arboretum

Nestled in the woods next to University of Michigan’s medical campus is the Nichols Arboretum.

Known locally as “The Arb,” you can find nearly 3.5 miles of walking trails that will make you forget you’re anywhere near an urban area. With three entrances at Nichols Drive, Geddes Road, and Washington Heights, The Arb is easily accessible.

The Main Valley is a popular spot for University of Michigan students and locals alike to throw a frisbee, read a book or take a stroll with their dogs.

Visitors hike in the Nichols Arboretum on June 3, 2018. (Meredith Bruckner)

Due to the nature of the Arb’s terrain, expect some hills and steep grades depending on which trail you’re on.

Our favorite time of year to visit the Arb is in the late spring and early summer when its famed Peony Garden is in full bloom.

The peony garden at Nichols Arboretum on June 18, 2019. (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

During peak bloom, visitors can revel in the garden’s beautiful 10,000-flower display. The Peony Garden boasts 270 historic peony varieties and is the largest collection of herbaceous peonies dating pre-1950 in North America.

The peony garden at Nichols Arboretum on June 18, 2019. (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

Tip: The flowers are most fragrant in the early morning and evening.

For more information, visit the Arb’s website.

Border-to-Border Trail

The B2B Trail connects towns and cities across Washtenaw County by 35 miles of trail.

Our personal favorite stretch is in the Dexter-Huron Metropark. A quick car or bike ride up the scenic Huron River Drive takes you to the entrance of the 122-acre park that features playgrounds, picnic areas and canoe launches.

Dame's Rocket seen along the Border-to-Border Trail in Dexter, Michigan. (Meredith Bruckner)

The trail, which crosses several bridges over the Huron River, is paved and has several access points. For a fun morning or afternoon, you can walk 20-30 minutes from the Metropark to downtown Dexter and experience all the charming small town has to offer.

You really can’t go wrong on any section of this impressive trail, though.

For more information and to see all of its corridors, click here.

Old West Side

With so many nature areas, it’s easy to overlook a good urban walk in Ann Arbor. We love strolling the city’s Old West Side, usually after grabbing a cup of coffee at Argus Farm Stop or Jefferson Market.

Its historic homes are a site to behold on their own, but the accompanying gardens make this area a true gem. We even found one house with its own architecturally matching little free library out front (pictured below).

A home on Ann Arbor's Old West Side. (Meredith Bruckner)

Now really, what is more Ann Arbor than that?

What’s your favorite walk in Ann Arbor? Share it with us at allaboutannarbor@wdiv.com.