5 things you must do outdoors in Washtenaw County before summer ends

Since the end of summer is quickly approaching, it's time to fit in as many outdoor activities as possible before the fall equinox on Sept. 22 officially marks the changing of the seasons. There are just a few weeks left of sweet summertime, so we came up with some ideas to help you enjoy it. Our list of five things to do in Washtenaw County before summer ends highlights a mix of active and leisurely activities in various locations throughout the county. We hope the list helps you enjoy the final days of summer.


1. Explore the county's Border-to-Border Trail

Grab a bike, scooter, skateboard, rollerblades, or just a pair of sneakers and hit the Border-to-Border Trail (B2B), spanning more than 40 miles across Washtenaw County. An especially scenic portion of the trail connects Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and Dexter along the Huron River. The B2B Trail is part of Michigan's Iron Belle Trail that extends more than 2,000 miles from the far western tip of the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit.


If you want even more of the B2B Trail, come back in the fall, when a new section of trail is scheduled to be completed north of Chelsea. The 2.6-mile segment, beginning at the intersection of M-52 and Werkner Road and ending at Waterloo Recreation Area's Green Lake Campground, connects to the recreation area and the DTE Energy Foundation Mountain Bike Trail. It's expected to open sometime in October.


2. Visit wildlife at The Creature ConservancyHave you ever wanted to hang out with exotic animals in the comfort of Washtenaw County? The Creature Conservancy, 4950 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd. in Ann Arbor, offers visitors the opportunity to kick it with kangaroos and ease up with emus, as well as their other furry, feathery, and scaly friends. The nonprofit, which promotes conservation through education, offers camps, classes, private events and tours, and programs in an effort to inspire compassionate connections to wildlife. An annual fundraising event titled Close Encounters will be held on Sept. 14 from 6 to 9:30 p.m.


Limited outdoor viewing is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays free of charge. The center opens its doors to the public from 1 to 5 p.m. on weekends for $6 for kids and $8 for adults.


3. Play disc golf at Rolling Hills, Hudson Mills, or Lakeshore

Disc golfing is an affordable activity that allows you to get some exercise and enjoy the great outdoors. It's a leisurely game, like traditional golf, and can be played solo or with friends. If you're an experienced disc golfer with your own discs, get in a 24-hole or 18-hole round at Hudson Mills Metropark, 8801 N. Territorial Rd. in Dexter; or Rolling Hills County Park, 7660 Stoney Creek Rd. in Ypsi Township, which also offers a new 18-hole putt-putt skills course. Both courses offer more difficult holes in the wooded areas and cost no more than $10 per vehicle for daily admission. If you're new to disc golf and don't own any discs, check out the free Lakeshore course at 2300 Lakeshore Blvd. in Ypsi Township, where you can visit The Throw Shop to purchase or rent discs. The sprawling 30-hole course is located on a former traditional golf course, so it's wide open with few obstacles.


4. Partake in a tour de tacos

Bike enthusiasts and taco aficionados can choose their own taqueria adventure with Taco Tour XI's three ride options through Ypsi and Ann Arbor on Saturday, Sept. 16. Each of the rides starts in the Frog Island parking lot, 699 Rice St., behind the Ypsilanti Freighthouse and ends at Cultivate Coffee and Tap House, where local band Jive Colossus will play from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.


The 11th annual event hosted by Bike Ypsi offers a five-mile ride called "the Townie," costing $25 and including three tacos; a 15-mile ride called "the Traditional," costing $30 and including six tacos; and a 30-mile ride called "the Torture," costing $35 and including nine tacos. All of the peddlers will receive a Taco Tour pint glass filled with free beverage from Cultivate, and a special Choco-Taco from Go! Ice Cream.


5. Enjoy a beverage in Cultivate's beer garden

Tasty beer, toe-tapping tunes, good company, and a beautiful setting. What more could you ask for in a fun night out at one of Ypsi's hot spots? The beer garden at Cultivate Coffee and Tap House, 307 N. River St. in Depot Town, is expected to remain open through the end of September.


Catch Cultivate's last Sundays in the Garden event of the season on Sunday, Sept. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m., featuring music by Matt Jones and Misty Lyn and May Erlewine. Sales of Short's Brewing Company beer will benefit Friends In Deed. The Bellaire-based brewery will contribute $1 of Short's beer sales to the Washtenaw County nonprofit providing basic needs, like utilities and furniture, for low-income families.


There are a couple of other special events taking place in the beer garden before it closes for the season. Local musicians Jason Dennie and Rochelle Clark will perform a free show in the beer garden on Sept. 13 from 7 to 9:30 p.m., and Cultivate will celebrate its third birthday with an Anniversary Party on Sept. 15 from 4 p.m. to midnight. Anniversary festivities will include coffee specials, beer releases, a community giving announcement, and live music from Nadim Azzam, Al Bettis, Aplus, Honey Monsoon, and DJ ZU.


Brianna Kelly is the project manager for On the Ground Ypsi and an Ypsilanti resident. She has worked for The Associated Press and has freelanced for The Detroit News and Crain's Detroit Business.


Photos by Doug Coombe.