Trail Review: Matthaei Botanical Gardens

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fleming creek

Despite having lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, most of my life, I'd never found my way to one of the most well-known and loved natural areas in town until this weekend. Matthaei Botanical Gardens, owned and operated by the University of Michigan, consists of a gorgeous botanical garden and 3.2 miles of trails. Perhaps because it sits on the northeast side of town is one reason I haven't been (west side for life!) but that's certainly no excuse now that I've seen what I've been missing.

I only peeked in at the gardens today; the trails were the focus. As we walked from the parking lot to the trailhead with two other groups of people I worried the trails would have more humans than suitable for the real nature escape we were going for, but as soon as we hit the first marker our paths diverged and we barely saw another soul.

The terrain here is markedly different than I've seen at other Washtenaw County nature areas: usually there's woods with little undergrowth or wetlands, but at Matthaei the trees are spaced further apart and green vegetation surrounds them.

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the blue trail

Trails were either dirt, mowed grass, or wood chip; they were clearly marked but my desire to "get lost in nature" prompted me not to look too carefully at the posted maps and so we did indeed end up a bit lost (though with Fleming Creek never too far away, there's always a way to find your way back).

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great white egret

Last note: BIRDS! I didn't have my longer range lens with me, but I spotted a Great White Egret (above) and a Great Blue Heron at Willow Pond, next to the parking lot. I definitely will plan to return and see if I can't spot some avian friends.