Superior Greenway forges ahead with planned improvements, despite pandemic delays

This article is part of Inside Our Outdoors, a series about Southeast Michigan's connected parks, greenways, and trails and how they affect residents' quality of life. It is made possible with funding from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

Work on a recently acquired portion of the Superior Greenway continues to move forward, despite setbacks related to theSuperior Greenway map outbreak of COVID-19. 

Located in Washtenaw County, the Superior Greenway is a roughly 2,750-acre area of protected and preserved land that lines the east and west sides of Prospect Road between Ford Road and Geddes Road in Superior Township. Made up of a patchwork of public nature preserves and private lands protected with conservation easements, it serves as a greenbelt for both people and local wildlife. Dating back to the early '90s, the greenway offers a scenic drive for motorists traveling down Prospect Road, as well as a variety of nature trails that are popular with hikers, cross-country skiers, birdwatchers, and nature enthusiasts.

The newest portion of the greenway consists of an 80-acre area near Ford Road and Berry Road acquired by the Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy (SMLC) from the Marissa A. Stepien Living Trust in late 2019. SMLC supervises and maintains the greenway in partnership with the city of Ann Arbor, Superior Township, and Washtenaw County, all of which contributed funds to the new purchase. Now known as the Secrest Nature Preserve, the new site is located at the northern end of the greenway and connects with several other of the greenway's conservation areas, including Superior Township's Schroeter Park and Washtenaw County’s Weatherbee Woods Preserve.

SMLC Executive Director Jill Lewis is excited by what the new preserve means for folks who live and work in the area.

"There are a lot of people who drive by on Ford Road that would have never seen Weatherbee Woods or Schroeter Park," she says. "Now that Secrest is acquired, even if someone never got out of their car, there's a pretty significant-sized protected natural area. And they can see it."

Last year, plans were announced to build a gravel parking lot on the Secrest site, as well as hiking trails that would connect with trails on the Weatherbee Woods preserve. Unfortunately, factors related to COVID-19, including last year's lockdown, held up progress on those efforts. 

Right now, both of those efforts are still in their planning phases. But SMLC hopes to have the new trails established on the site by the end of the year. Construction on the parking lot could last into next year.  

In the meantime, all of the Superior Greenway's other trails are currently open and accessible to the public. In particular, Lewis suggests checking out the Superior Greenway Nature Trail. Approximately 1.75 miles in length, it features a scenic, ADA-accessible trailhead and connects with several of the greenway's other trails and preservation areas. 

"It's definitely a draw," says Lewis. "People do the whole thing, or they'll just go for a shorter hike out and back. It's a really great connector right there in the middle of the greenway."

Visit the SMLC website for an expanded map and other information on the Superior Greenway.
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