Marilyn Bland Prairie Trail
at Matthaei Botanical Gardens
Marilyn Bland Prairie Trail – .6 miles
The Marilyn Bland Prairie Trail is nearly a loop that brings the visitor to the Marilyn Bland Prairie near its midpoint. The two legs of the trail are a study in habitat contrasts. The upland section (beginning at trail markers #3 and #4) follows the upper edge of the floodplain boundary. This section is home to some of our largest oaks. North of the historic Matteson farmstead is the reconstructed Marilyn Bland Prairie. Since the 1970s these old pastures have been under restoration to a show the presettlement prairies that were once common in our area. The trail section from the prairie to the Sam Graham Trees trail descends into and follows the west side of Fleming Creek. The extensive seepage slopes supported larch (Larix laricina) groves until these were decimated by an invasive exotic pest in the 1990s. Some natural regeneration of the larch groves is underway.
The Marilyn Bland Prairie Trail is west of Fleming Creek. The south entrance is at the Helen V. Smith Woodland Wildflower Garden (trail marker #3). The northern entrance is at the service drive bridge over Fleming Creek (near trail marker #5), and the eastern entrance is at the boardwalk on Sam Graham Trees trail that leads to the Helen V. Smith Woodland Wildflower Garden. Flooding after heavy rains often closes the trail until the water recedes and the trail begins to dry out.
The Marilyn Bland Prairie Trail is at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens site.