Freeman Preserve/Marshall Nature Area
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The 59-acre Freeman Preserve was owned by the Domino’s Farms Corporation – the pizza people – when in 2013 the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission purchased the tract with a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant and a financial contribution from Ann Arbor Township. The preserve is well forested and features some impressive oaks along with wetlands surrounding Kirk’s Brook, a tributary of Fleming Creek.
Adjacent to Freeman Preserve to the east is Marshall Nature Area, a 79-acre City of Ann Arbor park whose parking area and trailhead off North Dixboro Road serves as the main entrance to the trails. Much of Marshall is also well forested with mixed hardwoods such as oak, hickory, maple and beech. Dogwoods and a variety of wildflowers add color to the park in the spring while fall colors peak mid to late October. Pockets of planted pine and spruce are found on the south and west side of the park.
Trails in both parks merge into a 3-mile system that stretches northwest from North Dixboro Road to a pedestrian entrance off of Ford Road. On the county park map the main trails are labeled as Red, Yellow, Green and Blue but that isn’t the case in the parks themselves where black spray paint blazes on trees are for the most part the only markers seen. Despite the lack of signage and a handful of social trails, it’s hard to get lost in these parks as the well-beaten paths are easy to distinguish.
The described trail below is the perimeter of the system and follows the Red and most of the Yellow Trail to form a 2-mile loop that begins at the Dixboro Road trailhead. In the spring, sections of this route can be wet and muddy.
|Difficulty - Easy|