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8 Things to Do in the Ann Arbor Area for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Disc golf courses near Ann Arbor Michigan

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 hiking and fishing in town to boating through the Chain of Lakes and even kayaking down the Huron River, there are a variety of new hobbies available to every A2 local and visitor.

We rounded up our top eight activities to kick off your outdoor adventures. Mostly suited for warm weather, these are great ways to take advantage of our outdoor spaces this summer!

 

 

Hiking

Hiking trails near Ann Arbor Michigan

Wonderful nature walks and hikes can be found in every Ann Arbor area park, nature area, recreation area and open space. Just within Ann Arbor itself, you’ll find trails through Nichols Arboretum, Bluffs Nature Area, Dolph Nature Area and Bird Hills Nature Area, the largest park in Ann Arbor. And minutes from town, Pinckney Recreation Area and Waterloo Recreation Area offer a combined 31,500 acres of wilderness to explore!

 

Bird Hills Trail

Inside Ann Arbor’s largest and most forested park, the Bird Hill Trail is a serene getaway within the city limits. It traverses a quick, hilly route with plenty of magnificent views!

 

Bog Trail

Located just outside of Chelsea, Waterloo Recreation Area’s Bog Trail is a 1.5-mile trail that leads to a floating bog in Cedar Lake.

 

Waterloo-Pinckney Trail

The 36-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Trail travels from Big Portage Lake in Waterloo Recreation Area to Green Lake and into Pinckney Recreation Area.

 

 

Biking

Mountain biking trails near Ann Arbor Michigan

Whether you’re looking for road biking or mountain biking, you can find the perfect trail in and around Ann Arbor. In addition to road and dirt routes through our communities, the surrounding parks and open spaces offer countless multi-use trails suitable for rugged bicycle adventures.

 

Huron River Drive

Amongst local bikers, the classic road bike choice is the 24-mile route along Huron River Drive from Ann Arbor to Dexter and back.

 

Island Lake Recreation Area

Mountain bikers can opt for the Island Lake Recreation Area bike loops which, together, cover about 15 miles. You can travel the East Loop around the Huron River, the nine-mile West Loop, or both!

 

DTE Energy Foundation Trail

Located in Waterloo Recreation Area, the DTE Energy Foundation Trail is already an extensive trail system and is still being developed for even more mileage. As of June 2018, mountain bikers can enjoy the 4-mile Green Lake Loop and the 4.5-mile Big Kame Loop.

 

 

Kayaking

Kayaking near Ann Arbor Michigan

Ann Arbor and its surrounding communities have developed along the banks of the Huron River and amidst countless lakes and ponds suitable for paddle sports. So, whether you want a challenging route down the river or a peaceful float atop a lake, you’ll find the perfect setting right here.

 

Argo Park

Argo Park is home to the Argo Canoe Livery where you can rent kayaks and tubes, buy concessions and participate in river-themed programs. From here, you can enjoy a relaxing, 3.7-mile paddle down the Huron River to Gallup Park, a trip that typically takes 1.5 hours.

 

Gallup Park  

Another Ann Arbor park, Gallup also has its own livery — Gallup Park Canoe Livery — where you can rent materials, learn about the river and embark on river trips. Leaving from here, your trip will begin with a van ride upriver to Barton Park then continue on the water through Argo Pond, down the Argo Cascades, and back to Gallup Park. The trip is 5.7 miles and takes about 2.5 hours.

 

Waterloo Recreation Area

Inside Waterloo, paddlers will find 11 inland lakes open to kayaks, canoes and rowboats of all kinds.

 

 

Boating

Boating lakes rivers near Ann Arbor Michigan

In Michigan, you’re never more than six miles from a lake or river. And thanks to our impressive system of lakes connected by the Huron River, boating is a popular summer sport amongst the locals of Washtenaw County.

 

The Portage Lake Chain of Lakes

By far the most popular boating route in the Ann Arbor area, the Chain of Lakes is located in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties and is comprised of seven lakes connected by the Huron River. The trip begins at Little Portage Lake and Big Portage Lake in Waterloo Recreation Area, travels through Base Line Lake, Whitewood Lakes, Gallagher Lakes and Strawberry Lake, then ends at Zukey Lake in Hamburg Township.

 

Seven Lakes State Park  

About an hour north of Ann Arbor, Seven Lakes State Park offers 230 acres of water for swimmers, paddlers, fishermen and, of course, boaters!

 

 

Swimming

Swimming beaches and lake near Ann Arbor Michigan

The Great Lakes State contains more than 11,000 inland lakes with plenty of shoreline for swimmers. Some of these beachside waters even boast man-made water parks! 

 

Independence Lake Park

During the summer months, the park’s 360 acres feature trails for biking and hiking as well as fishing, boating and swimming in Independence Lake. Just off the beach, you can also enjoy water-themed fun at Blue Heron Bay Spray Park.

 

Island Lake Recreation Area

You’ll find two beaches available for swimming in Island Lake Recreation Area. There’s one at Kent Lake and one at Spring Mill Pond, a spring fed pond that offers more than 100 feet of sandy beach!

 

Rolling Hills Park  

Anyone looking for swimming adventures and water-themed fun near Ypsilanti can enjoy a splash in the waves, a float on the lazy river, or a ride down the slides of the Water Park.

 

 

Fishing

Fishing lakes rivers near Ann Arbor Michigan

With a license, fishing is available in many of our area lakes and recreation areas. For those just starting out, we’ve rounded up a few of the region’s great options.

 

Argo Park  

The Huron River offers fishing opportunities up and down its banks. At Argo Park, you can fish for carp along the embankment that forms part of the Argo Dam. Just a ten-minute walk from Downtown Ann Arbor, this is the closest fishing to the heart of town!

 

Lillie Park

Lillie Park in Pittsfield Township offers shore fishing in multiple locations on Haven Lake.

 

Lake Erie

Second best to deep sea fishing, Lake Erie offers boat angling opportunities to catch walleye, crappie, bluegill and more.

 

 

Disc Golf

Disc golf courses near Ann Arbor Michigan

Played much like regular golf, disc golf is played with a frisbee instead of a ball. Many Ann Arbor area parks offer courses complete with metal baskets to use as landmarks.

 

Rolling Hills Park

The same Ypsilanti park that offers swimming and a water park offers an 18-hole disc golf course!

 

Bandemer Park

One of two disc golf courses in Ann Arbor city parks, the course at Bandemer Park winds through a wooded area along the Huron River. It is a nine-hole course, and each hole has three tee pads.

 

Waterloo Recreation Area

The disc golf course at Waterloo Recreation Area is an 18-hole course at the Portage Lake Unit.

 

 

Horseback Riding

Equestrain horse back riding trails near Ann Arbor Michigan

In Ann Arbor area parks, horseback riding trails are nearly as prominent as mountain biking trails!

 

Pinckney Recreation Area

Across more than 11,000 acres of open space, Pinckney Recreation Area offers 13 miles of equestrian trails, a staging area and a stable

 

Waterloo Recreation Area

Waterloo Recreation Area offers 18 miles of horseback riding trails accessible from a staging area off Loveland Road. And, Horse ‘N Around Stables inside the park offers horse rentals, boarding, lessons and more.

 

Brighton Recreation Area

Home to a full-service riding stable and an equine experience suited for all riding levels, Brighton Recreation Area offers 19 miles of trails, a riding stable, rustic equestrian camping and a staging area. For more information on rentals and programs, check out Brighton Recreation Riding Stable.

 

 

How do you #OptOutside?  

If you have a favorite park or activity in the Ann Arbor area, let us know in the comments below!



Charles Reinhart Company

Charles Reinhart Company


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