Black Pond Woods Nature Area

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Overview

​Black Pond Woods Nature Area is a 34 acre woodland nature area on the north side of the city between Traver Road and Pontiac Trail. View the Ann Arbor Parks and Nature Areas Map for location context. It is bordered by Leslie Golf Course on its east side, Leslie Park​ on its north side, ​and the Leslie Science and Nature Center on the south side. The park features trails winding through the woods of oak, hickory, maple and dogwood. The spring wildflowers offer a terrific show. The titular Black Pond is a vernal, or seasonal, pond that supports a variety of wildlife.

Black Pond Woods is named for a small, vernal pond whose basin was formed by a slow-melting remnant of glacial ice. Tannins and humic acids from leaf litter cause the water color to be dark brown, thus giving rise to the name “Black Pond.” The water in the pond is collected entirely from rainfall that drains into the basin since there are no incoming springs or stream. The pond is, therefore, at its height in the spring and dry during summer months, effectively excluding fish from its inhospitable conditions.

The woods surrounding the pond itself are noteworthy as well. Black Pond Woods has two distinctive habitat types within its boundaries, and a third type, the wet meadow, is in Leslie Park adjoining the area. The woods surrounding the pond and comprising most of the northern and western areas of Black Pond Woods are mature oak-hickory forest. A large area adjacent to the Leslie Science Center boundary and into the central region of Black Pond Woods had historically been fallow fields and is currently growing in with shrubs and herbaceous savanna plants. There is also a wet meadow located in the woods of Leslie Park. Each of the three habitat types hosts a different diversity of native plants and animals which contribute to make the overall biodiversity of Black Pond Woods relatively high. 

Park Notices

Unless otherwise posted per City Council resolution, when a park is closed, no person shall remain in or enter it other than to quietly sit or walk.​

Refer to Chapter 39 of the City of Ann Arbor Code of Ordinances for park regulations and rules.

Park Hours

6 a.m. – Midnight

Amenities

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Unpaved trails

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Benches​


 
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Access and Parking

There is parking at the Leslie Science and Nature Center, where there are several trailheads that lead into Black Pond Woods Nature Area. There is also a trail entrance off of Tibbits Court, on the west side of the nature area, and there is street parking along Tibbits.

All of the park's trailheads can be accessed on foot. All of the streets immediately surrounding the park have sidewalks. The park can be accessed on bicycle using the surrounding streets. Nearby Pontiac Trail has bike lanes. The western park entrance off of Tibbits Court does not have bike racks, but there are bike racks at the Leslie Science and Nature Center.

The park connects to the Leslie Science and Nature Center​ on the south and Leslie Park​, which features more trails, on the north.

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Public Transportation

​There is a bus stop on Pontiac Trail less than a 5 minute walk from the western entrance off of Tibbits Court. The closest bus stop to the Leslie Science and Nature Center is on Pontiac Trail at Starwick Drive, and is about an 8 minute walk from LSNC. Visit TheRide​ for closest stops and route details or check out the parks ride guide​​.​​

Park History

History​​​

Ann Arbor's city parks sit on the ancestral and traditional homelands​ of several indigenous Native peoples. Read a land acknowledgement from the city and learn more a​bout the early history of the land here.​​

The land that comprises Black Pond Woods Nature Area was previously owned by Courtelis Company of Miami, Florida for several decades. Throughout this time, plans to develop the area had been made and scrapped several times. Courtelis donated a portion of the area surrounding the pond to the city in 1980. In 1990, they again put plans in motion to develop the remaining area and turn it into a residential neighborhood.​ City residents implored the city to purchase the land and preserve it as parkland, rather than letting it be developed. Read a 1990 article​ from the Ann Arbor News detailing the public's interest in stopping the development. Courtelis gave the city several months to consider the purchase, rather than beginning development immediately. The city managed to secure the funding and purchased the area in June of 1991, for a total of $1,175,000. (One estimate had valued the land to be worth $1.8 million).​ The Michigan Department of Natural Resources funded 75 percent of the purchase ($875,000) using the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund while the rest of the cost was paid for by funds from the city's Park Land Acquisi​tion Millage.

After the land was acquired, Natural Area Preservation (NAP) set to work managing the area's natural resources, using prescribed burns, invasive species management, and guiding the park's trails away from sensitive areas. The main trail loop was completed in 1996 and in 1997 a floating boardwalk was added to the Black Pond so visitors could get close to it without damaging the pond's delicate shoreline. The area became a nature lab for camps and programs at the Leslie Science & Nature Center.

Read two Natural Area Preservation (NAP) Newsletters detailing the natural features of the area:

2000 Park Focus: Bland Pond Woods by Jennifer Maigret

2012 Black Pond Woods: A Fine Winter Hike and More by Anne Rueter and NAP staff​​​



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