A hiking and biking trail connecting Matthaei Botanical Gardens with the regional border-to-border trail and beyond is one step closer, thanks to a Local Area Program grant of nearly $730,000 to Ann Arbor Charter Township from Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG).
This recreational trail will provide a critical non-motorized link from the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens to Washtenaw County’s Parker Mill Park, with connections to the state’s Iron Belle Trail, the regional Border-to-Border Trail, and the local Gallup Park Pathway, which is part of the Border-to-Border Trail.

The trtail will connect Matthaei with the area’s
Border-to-Border trail system, to Eastern Michigan
University, Washtenaw Community College, Ypsilanti,
and beyond
“The Gardens and Arboretum, along with the Challenge Course and Radrick Golf Course, lead the way in endorsing and furthering sustainability as a goal,” says Karen Sikkenga, associate director of Matthaei-Nichols, “and nonmotorized transportation connections to central and north campus are central to Matthaei Botanical Gardens’ strategic goals. Currently more than 140,000 visitors each year carpool, ride a bike, or drive a car to get to Matthaei. The new trail will allow them to leave their cars safely behind.
Beyond sustainability, the trail “is another link in a chain of accessibility options to the botanical gardens and the area for everyone,” Sikkenga adds.  “And it will serve residents in the densest part of Ann Arbor Township and provide a critical link for the region’s extensive trail system and public transportation.”
The trail also expands on existing non-motorized connections to University of Michigan and St. Joseph Mercy Hospitals, University of Michigan Central and North Campuses, Eastern Michigan University and Ypsilanti, Concordia University and Washtenaw County Community College, as well as public transportation to these destinations. Diana McKnight Morton, Vice Chair of Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees, says she’s excited about a trail that gives access to areas that are often difficult to get to other than by car. “Once this trail is in place, I believe people will utilize it beyond our expectations,” she says.
The shared-use trail is located entirely on University of Michigan land. The university has donated an easement for the project and provided valuable support for the grant application. The two-mile trail will run near Dixboro Road, a busy artery in Washtenaw County with a right of way that is inadequate for safe nonmotorized roadside passage.

This trail has been a priority in Washtenaw County’s Master Plan since 2002 and Washtenaw County Parks provided a $250,000 Connecting Communities grant for the project. “With this generous MDOT grant from SEMCOG, Washtenaw County’s grant and a state-level MDOT grant of $1,174,000, our Township has been awarded more than $2,150,000 in grant funding for this important project,” said Michael C. Moran, Ann Arbor Township supervisor. In addition to these grants, over 125 individuals and businesses have contributed more than $250,000 toward the project.

There are many gifting opportunities at the Gardens and Arboretum. For more information on how you can help support the trail, visit our major gift priorities page.