Like the name implies, Ann Arbor's foliage and appreciation for the great outdoors is one of its most attractive qualities. Even the chill of winter can't keep us indoors. Whether it's July 1st or January 1st, we'll be hiking, playing, and braving the elements, all to experience the beauty this area has to offer. With so many options, where are the best spots? That's for you to decide, but on this page I'll share some of the favorites I have found.
County Farm Park
"But I don't want to leave yet!" screamed the young boy cliff-hanging from his father's arms, legs flailing about in attempts to escape the hold. He's begging to return to the park, and I don't blame him.
This scene played out as I approached the country Farm Park entrance on a June morning straight out of the Pleasantville movie. All I could think was: I know how you feel, kid.
If you desire a slice of northern Michigan within the Ann Arbor city limits, Gallup Park is the answer to your prayers.
The park has been one of my preferred jogging routes since I moved to Ann Arbor and is still seated towards the top of my list. The tree-covered paths are conveniently located near my work, giving me little excuse not to hit the trails after a long day at the office, even when exhaustion has me contemplating if going for a run is a better choice than taking a snooze. Without fail, in mere minutes the scenery transforms me mentally into Rocky Balboa (the only accurate part of this is that we probably produce equal buckets worth of sweat).
Regardless of the season, Gallup Park has proven to be the ideal setting for my exercise efforts. In the summer the trees are lush and the families will be floating down the river in inner tubes. During the transition to fall the leafy roof feels like a fiery pathway, with orange, yellows, and reds popping in all their glory. This is also squirrel season, so joggers take warning that fattening creatures preparing for the upcoming cold may dart across your route. Then comes winter, when the leaves disappear but the beauty of the naked tree limbs serves as a beautiful contrast against the fresh white snow. Finally spring returns, along with my allergies, but it's okay because the vibrancy of the blooming vegetation draws me in (plus I stock up on local honey and antihistamines).
Other notable sightings - in late summer and early fall you'll catch the high school rowing teams practicing on the Huron River, and if you can swing an excursion during a weekday, the heartwarming image of grandparents teaching their grandkids about the lay of the land. Also, if you are like me and trying to live minimally, there is no need to purchase sporting equipment because the Gallup Park Canoe Livery offers TONS for you to rent (I provided a link below for you to check out the options). The park curators take great care of the area and celebrate the treasures it holds with events like the Turtle Steward Kick-Off in April, where attendees can learn about the six species of turtles that live and nest in the city.
It's easy to see why I love the area so much. I encourage you to get out there! Jog, walk, bring your dog, bring your boyfriend, bring just yourself for a moment of solace...it's your call...but be sure to take advantage of the fresh air. It's good for the soul, and we all need to push that reset button every now and then.
For more information, check out the official Parks and Rec website: Gallup Park Canoe Livery