There is nothing more enjoyable on the mind than wandering through a pristine woodland like Scio Woods Preserve. It reminds me of John Muir’s quote:
And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.– John Muir
Scio Woods Preserve, just on the west side of Ann Arbor, is certainly one of the places to go when your soul needs finding.
This preserve consists of a dense forest of Oak, Hickory, Sugar Maple, and Beech trees spread over 91 acres of rolling terrain. The forest floor varies from dry to wet, providing an incredible variety of understory plants to explore, from PawPaw trees to Button Bush. With the rich soil, spring wildflowers grow throughout the area in abundance.
An additional sign of this preserve’s health and diversity is that there are many birds and animals that call this place home. We heard constant birdsong and woodpeckers as we walked the trails.
- Scenery – 5
- Trail Condition – 5
- Quiet/Solitude – 4
- Difficulty – 2
- Overall – 5
Scio Woods Preserve – The Walk
The trail system is well marked and consists of a small loop (blue) and a large loop (red) with connecting trails to cut out part of a loop. The Blue Loop itself is about 1/2 of a mile in length and would be suitable to take young children on for a short walk in the park. If you choose to do the full Blue & Red loop, the distance is about 2.4 miles, with no bathrooms or water. The trails consist of wide and well-maintained dirt paths with several wooden bridges over the streams. There are some trails that branch off from the blue loop and head to a pond and drain to the north. It is a great diversion into the forest, but be careful, the trail is more rustic and peters out into private land.
Blue Loop Trail
Starting on the Blue Loop Trail, which begins and ends in the parking area, you enter an upland forest rich with undergrowth. For the first 100 yards, it’s like walking through a valley of greenery.
The trail then descends into the wetland forest, where the canopy is thick enough to prevent a constant wall of growth around the trail. Here you will find Oaks, Hickories, and many wildflowers.
The Blue Loop Trail is centered around a small stream and its ecosystem. It’s a great place to explore, but stay on the path and avoid trampling on the plants and critters inhabiting the forest floor.
The Red Loop Trail
About 1/4 mile from the start, the Blue Loop Trail crosses the first wetland and meets the Red Loop Trail. We continued to the Red Loop Trail and headed deeper into the preserve. The wetland area is rich with wildflowers and growth spurred on by the fallen trees. We bet it will be a delight to visit in mid-spring when trilliums and other native flowers carpet the area.
With all the birds singing in the treetops, it was good to find some benches along the way so you could sit, have a picnic, and enjoy the sights and sounds.
The Red Loop continues through the north side of the preserve to a drier section, filled with towering maple, oak, and hickory trees. Here we found more sun-loving wildflowers such as native Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) growing along the path.
Once the trail reaches the northwest corner of the preserve, it curves south again and passes through several wetland sections before finally rejoining the Blue Loop and heading up to the parking lot. This final mile of the trail is so peaceful and beautiful, and it makes Scio Woods really stand out as one of the places we will return to often.
Our first trip to this preserve was in June, and we can’t wait to go back and see how it looks in fall and spring. We highly recommend this preserve and
We went back in October to see how the woodland looked with the fall foliage. The trail took on a marvelous golden glow from the filtered and reflected light. It was just gorgeous and is easily one of the best places to visit in the fall.
The whole forest really lit up as the fall leaves fell into a golden carpet.
Scio Woods Preserve – Conclusion
Scio Woods Preserve is an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place. If you want to de-stress and sit in nature, this park should be on your list of places – it’s on the top of ours.
Max elevation: 1038 ft
Min elevation: 972 ft
We made a video of the park walk to use for treadmill walking encouragement. If you want to see it and hear the birds (and someone’s loud breathing), you can find it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/LS_lqIa4YPM
- This large preserve is on Scio Church Rd west of Wagner Rd. Although it is adjacent to an active sand and gravel pit, the noise of the world drops quickly away as you enter the forest.
- The preserve is surrounded by private land. Please respect the property boundaries and stay inside the public land.
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?
|Address||4000 Scio Church, Ann Arbor, MI 48103|
|Trail Length||2.4 Miles|
|Highlights||Beautiful high-quality woodlands|
|Access||Unpaved Parking Lot|
|Accessibility||The trail is hard-packed earth with some soft areas. Some portions are steep.|
|Best time to visit||Anytime|