This diversity of habitats provides for good wildlife viewing, particularly whitetail deer. An aerial survey in 2013 revealed that the preserve had a deer population at 76 deer per square mile. Such an elevated population was causing significant damage to the park’s flora and is the reason a special hunt for disabled veterans is staged on limited dates in a small section of the park. Other species that might be encounter include wood ducks, coyotes, blue racers, and Blanding’s turtles.
Leonard was obtained in sections by the Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation and The Nature Conservancy with the initial purchase – a historic farmhouse and the 40 acres surrounding it – made in 2004. The most recent addition was purchased in 2009, a 22-acre slice located across the River Raisin from the original preserve and currently accessible only by canoe or kayak.
The rest of the preserve is easily reached on foot via a 4.2-mile network of trails that begin from a trailhead on North Union Street, northwest of Manchester. Trails are a mix of mowed pathways, wooded foot trails and old farm lanes. The extensive wetlands, including a floodplain forest, means wet hiking conditions can be encounter anytime from March through November but particularly in early spring. Best time for a hike is in the fall.
The route described here is the perimeter of the trail system that includes the Blue, Yellow and Red Trails and is a hike that is rated easy and totals 3.7 miles.
|Difficulty - Easy|