JD Allinder

Saginaw Forest

In Posts on September 16, 2009 at 6:46 pm


Jane and I took our lunch break today at Saginaw Forest, one of Ann Arbor’s best-kept secrets. Located on Liberty Road about half a mile south of Wagner, Saginaw is 80 acres of woods, wetlands, and prairies, and it’s adjacent to another 20-30 acres of private property (where we hike as well). Though the forest is a private research and teaching facility owned by the University of Michigan and managed by the School of Natural Resources, it’s open to the public and features several miles of established trails, deer paths, and deep-woods walking for the adventurous. It is a gorgeous, pristine property, and very few people seem to know about it or use it.

The property was given as a gift to the UofM in 1903 by Regent Arthur Hill and his wife, Louise, both of Saginaw. The gift of the property coincided with the inaugural year of the School of Natural Resources, and the faculty and students began long-term forest planting that continued until 1937. The result is 55 acres of native and exotic species and home to a vast array of wildlife including, believe it or not, wild boar, some of whom carry the pseudorabies virus which, while not deadly to humans, has been known to kill dogs and cats. (Thankfully Jane and I weren’t attacked by wild rabid boars today. Wouldn’t that have been an adventure?)

Today was an absolutely perfect day for a visit to the forest. While still summer, there was definitely a hint of fall in the air. It was crisp and breezy and just enough of summer’s oppressive edge was taken off so as to put quite a zing in Jane’s step.

She’s not the only one. When we came upon a field of wild flowers blowing in the wind, I couldn’t contain myself: I took off running. The sun was high overhead, but the shadows were long and full of promise. Jane ran along beside me, thrilling in the now, and I know she understood. I know this might sound dramatic, but I almost started crying – truly. My heart was so filled with the joy of fall. It’s my season of rebirth.

Saginaw Forest Pond

Despite the nip in the air, it was still warm and sunny enough to work up quite a sweat. We walked long and hard, and I ended up running a couple of miles, too. About halfway through our romp we stopped at Third Sister Lake where Jane refreshed herself.

Third Sister Lake

We were both exhausted after a two-hour plus outing. The weather and the overwhelming feeling of optimism that it engendered turned Jane into a wild banshee (really) and made me push myself just a little bit harder.

If you decide to visit Saginaw Forest (and if you live in the area, you definitely should), there are several points of entry. Though the easiest is the gated entry on Liberty, there’s no parking at the gate or on Liberty. There are also no sidewalks on Liberty, and the traffic moves pretty swiftly, so, in other words, if you want to access the woods, you have to work for it. (Which is probably one of the reasons why no one’s ever there. It’s not a park, and it’s not convenient, but that makes it more special. Going there always feels like an adventure.) I drive about 500 meters south of  the entrance to Westview Way and turn left. It’s an upper middle class subdivision, and it feels kind of awkward parking there, but I do it anyway. Streets are public. From the car I walk in the grassy ditch along Liberty until I reach the entrance to the woods and then run across the street. (Cars really fly through there. Easy does it!)

Jane on the trail

  1. okay John, Monica is away from the computer and I’ve been cking your blog out… hey, say hi to jane for me will you? Haven’t seen you guys in a looong time. I’m stopping now that I got this far, as I also miss seeing georgia, tho i was too wild for her and she kinda tolerated me… But you know, I can see from reading about you and Jane that my life with Monica is NOTHING like the fun Jane is having. How come Jane got you and I got Monica???!! Its like you were saying in one of those entries about how life just isn’t fair. Not only that, but I have to hang out with a CAT ~~ imagine of all the indignities! She even tries to go on walks with me and act like we’re the best buds, or lick my face or paws as if we’re “close”. for heavens sake, John ~ she’s a CAT! Good lord!

    Well do tell Jane for me that she’s a lucky girl, and I’m in the dog house. Wish Jane’d come visit some time, but then you guys don’t generally do the city sidewalks do you? You’re out in that wonderful countryside roaming free! Bah! ~ if I can escape from here, you’ll see me on your doorstep. I think I remember where you guys live — so, we’ll see. Til then, ‘break a leg!

    Sasha the wonder dog

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