5 Family Friendly Ann Arbor Hikes | Ask An Ann Arbor Expert

Are you looking for Family Friendly Ann Arbor Hikes? Pittsfield Township Mom Annie founded Hike It Baby Ann Arbor. In today’s Ask an Ann Arbor Expert post, she brings us 5 of her favorite Family Friendly Ann Arbor Hikes.

5 Family Friendly Ann Arbor Hikes

With over 160 parks in the city of Ann Arbor, it can be intimidating to pick one to explore – especially when you have little ones in tow! Are there bathrooms? Is it shady? Can we bring the stroller? I have compiled a (non-comprehensive) list of 5 of Hike it Baby Ann Arbor’s favorite family-friendly hikes in Ann Arbor. We hope you find this list helpful as you’re planning outdoor adventures this summer with your family!

5 Family Friendly Ann Arbor Hikes

Leslie Science and Nature Center

1831 Traver Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Hours: 6AM – 10PM
Restrooms: Port-a-Potty available, restrooms open during business hours
Water available: Yes, during during summer months behind the brown office building
Stroller Friendly: No
Shady: Yes
Mosquito Factor: Average
Trail Distances: 0.1 mile – 1 mile
Trails Marked: Yes
Handicapped Accessible: No
Parking: Free on-site
Features:Vernal Pond, Sensory Trail, Raptor Enclosures (open at all times), Critter House (open at select times), some hills, wildflowers in spring


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Family Friendly Ann Arbor Hikes - Leslie Science & Nature Center

Photo Credit: Eliza Oakes

Leslie Science and Nature is one of Hike it Baby Ann Arbor’s favorite locations where we often hike on Tuesday mornings! The longest, and best trail you’ll find is the Black Trail (only 1 mile) where you’ll find a vernal pond (visit in the spring to find frogs and salamanders) and encounter hills to run up and down. When the vernal pond dries up in late summer, you’ll find a decrease in mosquitos. One of the shorter hikes that may be of interest to your toddler and preschooler is the Sensory Trail where you can discover how deer use their sense of hearing and you use your sense of sight to find a camouflage owl. Speaking of owls, don’t forget to visit the raptor enclosures at the end of the hike to meet eagles, owls, and turkey vultures!

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

1800 N. Dixboro Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Family Friendly Ann Arbor Hikes - Barn at Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Photo Credit: Annie Fortunato

Hours: Dawn until Dusk for Nature Trails, 10AM – 8PM for Children’s Garden in Summer
Restrooms: Yes, in conservatory
Water Available: Yes, in conservatory
Stroller Friendly: Yes, Red and Green Trails and Display Garden
Shady: Yes, Red and Blue Trails
Mosquito Factor: Low
Trail Distances: 0.5 mile – 2 miles
Trails Marked: Yes
Handicapped Accessible: Display Gardens
Parking: $1.50 per hour, on-site (Free for Members)
Features: Fleming Creek, butterflies in late spring and summer, Children’s Garden and Nature Play area, Conservatory, explorer backpacks (free to check out in the conservatory), pond, discovery trail, zen garden, old barns

Matthaei Botanical Gardens is one of Hike it Baby Ann Arbor’s old favorites. There are plenty of hikes to choose from here to fit your family’s needs. I enjoy the red trail to the yellow trail where you walk along Fleming Creek and spot crayfish and minnows. There are also a few spots where kids can put their toes in the water! The old barns on the edge of the yellow trail is also a favorite landmark for kids. Please be sure to stay on the trails, as there have been mississauga rattlesnake sightings. However, I’ve been there hundreds of times and have seen only garters. Be sure to bring lunch and have a picnic in the children’s garden and let the kids play in the mud and dirt pits! Want a short hike? Check out the Green Trail and play hide-and-seek on the island.

You can find us there on Fridays for “free play” in the Children’s Garden.

Parker Mill

4650 Geddes Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Hours: 8AM – Dusk
Restrooms: Yes, spring and summer
Water Available: Yes
Stroller Friendly: Yes
Shady: Yes
Mosquito Factor: Low
Trail Distances: 0.5 mile – 4 miles
Trails Marked: Yes
Handicapped Accessible: Yes, Border to Border and Hoyt G. Post Trails
Parking: On-site, free
Features: Fleming Creek, boardwalk, mills and log cabin (open select times), dam, interpretive signs, railroad bridge, geocaches

Family Friendly Ann Arbor Hikes - Parker Mill

Photo Credit: Eliza Oakes

We prefer the Hoyt G. Post Trail. It is a 1 mile lollipop on a boardwalk, which is great for strollers and new walkers. It is very shady and with the moving water, mosquitos aren’t as common. Rain and ice can affect the boardwalk and can make the trail slippery at times. As you approach the railroad bridge, you may find a slight sewage smell, especially if the wind is blowing right – it’s the water treatment plant nearby. For a bit more of an adventure, you can take the 4 mile paved trail out-and-back from Parker Mill to Gallup Park. This is bike friendly and a fun adventure for older children on bicycles!

You can find Hike it Baby Ann Arbor at Parker Mill on most Tuesday evenings.

Nichols Arboretum

1610 Washington Heights Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Family Friendly Ann Arbor Hikes - Annie & Neko in The Arb

Photo Credit: Amy Diebold

Hours: 8AM – Dusk
Restrooms: During Visitor Center Hours only. Occasionally port-a-potties are available
Water Available: In warm months at the Visitor’s Center entrance and Main Field
Stroller Friendly: Yes, some portions
Shady: Most
Mosquito Factor: Low
Trail Distances: 0.5 miles and up!
Trails Marked: Some
Handicapped Accessible: No
Parking: M-28 Parking Lot on Washington Heights is open to the public after 5PM during the week and all weekend, if you have a U of M parking pass parking is available right across the street from the entrance, and limited street parking is available and free after 6PM M-Sat. and all day on Sunday
Features: Huron River, Peony Garden (in late spring/early summer), fairy garden, steep hills, prairie, plays in the summer, wetlands, open fields, wildflowers in spring, labeled flora.

What we love about “The Arb” is that you can make it as long, or as short as you want and there are so many features depending on what you’re in the mood for. By staying on the main trail, The Arb is stroller friendly. However, if you get off the beaten path near the river, you can rack up some serious mileage and make it a difficult hike up some steep hills (as steep as you can get in Ann Arbor). Visit the peony garden the first weeks of June to see the largest collection of peonies in bloom, but visit the Fairy Garden and Troll Knoll any time of year for some fun with your littles. Hang out in the Main Field for a picnic, but be sure to visit Hawthorn Valley – it’s my favorite section of the Arb!

Hike it Baby Ann Arbor has been doing Sunday morning strolls almost every Sunday since October 2014.

Eberwhite Woods

Use the entrance near 1799 Ivywood Dr. Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Hours: Dawn – Dusk
Restrooms:None
Water Available: No
Stroller Friendly: Some portions – only all terrain
Shady: Yes
Mosquito Factor: High
Trail Distances: 0.5 miles – 1.2 miles
Trails Marked: No
Handicapped Accessible: No
Parking: Street Parking on Ivywood Dr.
Features: Playground halfway through at Eberwhite Elementary, old growth trees, vernal pond, stream, downed trees

Family Friendly Ann Arbor Hikes - Eberwhite Woods

Photo Credit: Annie Fortunato

At first glance Eberwhite Woods may seem very un-friendly to families – no water, no restrooms, and no trail markers. However, I assure you, it’s worth the hike! Plenty of frogs and salamanders to spot and the stream bed is always really fun to explore. Allow your kids the chance to balance on logs and run through the shady forest! Stop half-way through and go to the “castle playground” at Eberwhite Elementary School where there is also a sandbox to play in on the opposite side of the school. You can take the main path both ways (the “short way”), but I encourage you to loop around by taking the trail to the left when you enter the woods and the “short way” back.

Currently, we have a Hike it Baby Hike here on Wednesday evenings.

About Hike It Baby

Hike it Baby is an international nonprofit dedicated to getting children and their families outdoors and on the trails. The volunteer-based organization began in September 2013 by a Portland mom, Shanti Hodges, and has since grown to 335 branches and 200,000 members worldwide. Hike it Baby Ann Arbor was founded in October 2014 by Annie Fortunato, who never felt that other “mom” groups were quite her speed. Hikes and other Hike it Baby events are hosted by its volunteer members.

Family Friendly Ann Arbor Hikes

Photo Credit: Annie Fortunato

Join us by going to www.hikeitbaby.com where you’ll sign up for a 90 day trial. After your 90 days, if you’d like to join the Hike it Baby family, we require a $10 annual fee, but all events are then completely FREE! You may also join our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/hikeitbabyannarbor/ and see what we’re all about!

Today’s Guest Poster:

Ask an Ann Arbor Expert Series

This article is part of our new summer series, Ask an Ann Arbor Expert. Each week we will be featuring advice from an Ann Arbor expert on a family friendly topic. Would you like to be featured as an Ann Arbor Expert? Contact us for more information about appearing in the column.

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