JD Allinder

The Unnamed Trail

In Posts on July 25, 2009 at 12:21 am

Today was a rather hectic day. My to-do list has been growing all week, and it’s now officially out of control. Jane and I still went out for our two-hour lunch walk, though. We never skip a day. In fact, the days when I’m especially busy or feeling stressed out are the days I most need to unplug from the grid and hang out with my dog in the woods.

Lady Jane

Today we walked the unnamed trail behind St. Joe’s Hospital in Ypsilanti. My friend, Elena – whose Alsatian, Elsa, is Jane’s best friend – took us there a couple of months ago. It’s such a great place. I was stunned that I’ve lived just a couple of miles from it all these years and never taken advantage of it. The trail doesn’t have a name, as far as I know, and relatively few people seem to know it exists. You enter by taking McAuley Drive around the hospital campus perimeter. Just past the ball fields on the left is a picnic area. There are rusted basketball hoops and a few picnic tables that are always empty. Park in the huge lot – I promise you’ll be the only car there – and walk east into the woods. Don’t be fooled and think you’ve arrived when you come upon a gravel foot path. That’s for wimps. Keep walking all the way into the woods and down until you reach the Huron. You’ll see the dirt foot trail running along the river. Jane and I always turn left and hike north first because this part of the trail kicks my butt every time, and I like to get it over with.

The unnamed trailThe trail winds a little bit, but it’s relatively easy going for about 3/4 of a mile. The scenery, steep hills on the left and the river on the right, is gorgeous. You’ll eventually come upon two or three springs that are spraying water across the path. That’s your cue to turn around unless you really want a challenge. Jane and I always keep going the last half mile or so, but it’s very tough. There are downed trees, rocky hills, mud pits, and jungle-like vegetation. Maneuvering this section requires squatting, crawling, and jumping. I’ve ripped  several shirts, been covered in scratches and bruises,  and fallen a few times, too. It is an intense workout. But if you’re up for it, it’s an awesome adventure. Jane and I actually ran into a guy on this part of the trail today. He was running. (There is no way I would run this trail.) The guy was as surprised to see us as we were to see him. The end of the trail dumps you out at the convergence of South Dixboro Road and East Huron River Drive in Ann Arbor. You can cross the railroad tracks and walk west to Gallup Park or north to Parker Mill Park. There’s another park to the east called Forest Park. According to the map, there’s limited or no access by roads. I think Jane and I might check it out next week.

We turn around at this point, me drenched with sweat, and hike back to our starting point at St. Joe’s. Instead of stopping at the car, though, we walk south along the river about a mile until we reach Dixboro Dam. This is a beautiful, lowlands walk that’s part meadow and part wetlands. The weeds are taller than I am, and the mud is deep, so long pants and boots are a must (as is a tick check after you get home). After exploring the dam, Jane and I head back to the car where we crash under a tree and share a gallon of water. The whole hike is less than five miles, but it takes two hours because of the challenging terrain. There are a few sub-trails I’d like to check out, and there are also deer paths through the brush along the railroad tracks that Jane’s curious about. I’m always too exhausted to explore them, though. I keep promising Jane we’ll explore further in the winter – that’s when I’m at my peak. On a cold winter day I can walk forever.

Jane on the trail

  1. Did you seriously call Elsa an alsatian or are you just messing with me.

    You’re messing with me right?

  2. Of course not. Elsa is a beautiful Alsatian!

  3. Um, she’s a Belgian Malinoise. Hellew!

  4. What are you talking about?

  5. […] hike five to eight miles if she’s got continual access to a body of water where she can swim. The Unnamed Trail is perfect for days like today, because it runs parallel to the Huron River and much of it is […]

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