Trail

Nichols Arboretum

Ann Arbor, MI
Length: Varies
Type: Loop

About This Trail

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Nichols Arboretum, or better known as “The Arb”, is located near the U of M hospital near downtown Ann Arbor. There are three entrances, but I prefer to start at the Washington Heights entrance because it’s where all the best trails begin. Seasonally, you will find restrooms and water available at this entrance. Parking is best on Washington Heights in the M-28 lot. It is free after 5pm Monday through Friday and on the weekends. During the week, you can pay for street parking on Observatory or Washington Heights. Alternatively, you can park in the hospital parking structures. The Arb is great for any kind of stroller, as there are mostly wide, gravel paths.

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Trail Features

Carrier needed No
Stroller friendly Yes
ADA accessible Yes
Water fountains Yes
Bathrooms No
Cell reception Excellent
Pet friendly Yes
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby No
Emergency support
within 5 miles
Yes

Trail highlights

Creek / River, Shaded Hike, Viewpoint, and Visitor Center

The Washington Heights entrance is where you can find the peony garden. Peonies bloom in early June and over 90 different types are found here. A fairy garden and troll knoll is just past the peony garden and is a fun place to circle back to after a hike for the kiddos to explore. If you have a stroller, make a right turn at the split and wind down the path to the river. If you are up for some stairs, go straight and this will take you on a ridge with nice peeks of the Huron River below. At the bottom this trail, you’ll find the Huron River. Spend some time watching the kayakers go by, wading, skipping rocks, or catching crayfish. Continue straight to go to the prairie, or take a right just past the stone stairs to the river and you’ll go on a wide, stroller friendly path up to the Caretaker’s Cottage. Before you get to the cottage, if you’d like a more strenuous hike, there is a small trail that goes up the hill. This trail can be pretty steep and you’ll get your heart pumping. If you take the trail to the cottage, you’ll go down the hill to the main valley. This is a great place to let the kiddos run free or kick a ball around. Go straight and up the stairs for a great view of North Campus, or take a right and head back to the main path by taking the boardwalk. The boardwalk will intersect with the main path and to Heathdale. This is one of my favorite places in the Arb. Rhododendrons and lush ferns can be found here and a stone circle for sitting and chatting.Take the trail to the right, up the hill, and under the curved tree and back to the fairy garden.

Fee & Parking Details

Fee : $0.00

Parking is best on Washington Heights in the M-28 lot. It is free after 5pm Monday through Friday and on the weekends. During the week, you can pay for street parking on Observatory or Washington Heights. Alternatively, you can park in the hospital parking structures.

Trail Contributor

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Born, raised, and rooted in the GREAT state of Michigan and adventure mom to Neko and Levi, I’ve been involved with the Hike it Baby organization since 2014. I currently work as the Data and Social Media Coordinator for the Hike it Baby National Team, a Branch Ambassador for Hike it Baby Ann Arbor, and a fulltime employee with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. I have a passion for the outdoors and am so grateful to have the opportunity to carry on that passion. Thanks to HiB, I was also elected as Pittsfield Township Park Commissioner in 2018, which allows me to be a voice for my community. When I’m not on the trails or working, I enjoy traveling, kayaking, social justice, baseball, vegan food, and cheering on Neko at all of his sporting events!