The Lively Lagoon at North Bay Park
North Bay Park – Overview
North Bay Park, in Ypsilanti Township, MI, is a hidden treasure. The park features a network of trails, a raised boardwalk, an observation tower, fishing platforms, and a fitness trail. These are all built around a central lagoon that is abounding with waterfowl, turtles, and lotus flowers. It is absolutely one of the prettiest parks in the county.
In addition to its trail system, North Bay Park is a great place to go birding. The lagoon attracts several species of herons, egrets, ducks, and cormorants. The nearby wetland is filled with a huge variety of sparrows, warblers, and friends.
Note that the park is staffed and gated during the park season (May – September).
Fees may apply in season (see ytown.org) –
- Daily $3
- Annual resident $10
- Annual non-resident $20
- Seniors (60+) free
- Scenery – 4
- Trail Condition – 5
- Quiet/Solitude – 3
- Difficulty – 2
- Overall – 4.5
North Bay Park – The Walk
The park covers 139 acres and is located on the northwest end of Ford Lake where the Huron River enters the lake. The main parking is off of S. Huron Stree, just south of i-94. The lot is gated and staffed during the park season (May-September) and there may be fees as noted above. There is a secondary parking lot, off of Grove St, which is not gated or maintained but offers a more accessible (less steep) entrance to the park.
The trail we took begins at the east end of the main parking lot. There is a paved walkway that goes steeply down towards Ford Lake. Several switchbacks in the path make the climb easier to take. The total descent from the parking lot to the lake is about 90′. Take your time, it’s well worth it.
Once you reach the bottom, the trail flattens out and skirts the edge of the Eagle Crest golf course, and cuts through the wetland. Most of the trail here is a planked path, so you can keep out of the mud during the wet season. Once you cross this area, the path forks up to the boardwalk or onto the wooded areas beyond.
The Lagoon Boardwalk
From there, take the stairs or ramp up to the platform at the beginning of the boardwalk. From here you get the first sight of the lagoon. This area is often filled with Egrets and Great Blue Herons fishing in the shallow waters.
Heading down the boardwalk, make sure to keep an eye on the trees on the shoreline. This is where you will find the Green Herons and Wood Ducks hanging out looking for their lunch. You can also spot a fair number of turtles stacked up on the logs, sunning themselves.
On the lagoon side, lily pads and lotuses fill the water. In summer, these both begin to bloom adding additional flair to the water of the lagoon.
The lagoon is also filled with turtles. In the summer you will easily spot them sunning themselves on the logs and shorelines.
At the far end of the boardwalk is an observation tower. Climbing to the top of the tower gives a great view of the whole lagoon.
The boardwalk connects with a trail that crosses the causeway on the outer edge of the lagoon. This part of the trail features a series of gracefully arched bridges connecting the sections of the causeway. All along this section, there are benches and tables. These provide a great place to sit and watch the birds and other animals that inhabit the lagoon and the lake beyond.
At the end of the causeway, the trail branches again. To the right, it continues past the fishing pier and around the north end of Ford Lake. Eventually, this exits to the Grove St parking lot. In the other direction, you pass through the woods again to join the path through the wetlands and then back to the main parking lot. This section of the path is packed earth/wood chips and often damp (i.e. squishy). If you have mobility issues, I’d suggest just turning back on the causeway and just retracing your steps.
The only downside to this park is that it is boarded on the north side by the highway (I-94). So when you are along this side of the park, it can be quite noisy. However, the sound is not too loud or distracting when you are out on the boardwalk or south end of the causeway.
This is a great park and is rarely crowded. Head on down and enjoy it as soon as you can.
North Bay Park is a beautiful place to take a quick walk. The path around the lagoon provides an excellent place to be out in nature and watched the birds and turtles. It’s one of the top park walks in the area. There are many picnic tables along the path on the causeway, so bring a lunch and enjoy.
Max elevation: 758 ft
Min elevation: 682 ft
Below are some of the sights we found while walking that day.
Leave No Trace and Obey The Park Rules
- Always leave no trace, pack out everything you take in. We suggest that you bring an empty bag with you so you can pack out your trash and remove any that you see along the way.
- Stay on marked trails. Straying into the undergrowth can damage delicate ecosystems.
- Parks and preserves are surrounded by private lands. Please be respectful of property boundaries and stay inside the public land.
- Let someone know where you are going. Some areas have limited or no cell service, so if you get stuck you may not be able to call for help.
- Read the notes, warnings, and information provided at the park readerboard/kiosk. There may be closed trails or special seasonal information.
- Respect the no bikes, no dogs, and no horses rules. These are posted and may be updated at any time.
- Respect wildlife and nature. Do not approach or disturb animals or birds living in the area.
- Leave only footprints – Take only pictures.
For more information on Leave No Trace – see LNT.org
Where is this?
North Bay Park is located just off of Huron St and I-94, next to Eagle Crest Golf Club at 1001 Huron St, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
|Address||1001 Huron St, Ypsilanti, MI 48197|
|Trail Length||1.5 Mile (loop)|
|Highlights||Boardwalk and Lotus Lagoon|
|Access||Paved Parking Lots|
|Amenities||Picnic Shelters, Picnic Benches, Bathrooms, Garbage cans|
|Fees||Yes, during the season. Free for Ypsilanti Township residents|
|Accessibility||The trail consists of paved sections, wooden plank boardwalks, and hard-packed earth. The trail has no stairs, however, some sections near the parking lot are steep. There is a ramp leading up to the lagoon boardwalk from the main path.|
|Best time to visit||The Lotus flowers begin blooming in early August|