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 about the early history of the land
Sugarbush Park was acquired by the Department of Parks and Recreation in 1968. At the time, the only houses in that area were those on Bromley Court and the US-23 and M-14 sections of Ann Arbor’s highway ring were not yet constructed. There were plans afoot for the construction of several housing developments thereby creating a future need for a neighborhood park. Since then, Sugarbush Park has evolved into a diverse park with play areas, a ball diamond and a natural area.
The natural area of Sugarbush Park extends north from Bluett Road between Georgetown Boulevard and Yellowstone Drive. This area is primarily a beech-maple woodland with a somewhat unusual assemblage of plants including several that are found in no other park in Ann Arbor. If you enter from one of the two Bluett entrances and follow the trail north, you will come across a small pawpaw (Asimina triloba) grove on the east side of the path. The pawpaw is an understory tree that grows to a height of 10-20 feet. The fruit of this tree is the largest fruit native to North America and is reminiscent of a short, fat banana. It is considered desirable by some, although it is often eaten by wildlife before it is ripe enough to be palatable to human tastes. A second unusual tree found in the woods of Sugarbush is the four-angled or blue ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata). It receives these names from the blue dye that was made from its inner bark, and from its twigs which are usually more square than round. We only have this species in one other park in Ann Arbor (Bird Hills). Another notable tree that can be found at Sugarbush is flowering dogwood. These small native trees have large white flowers in the spring.
Plants are not the only interesting things that can be found in Sugarbush Park. In a small vernal pool in the southwest corner of the park, whole communities of invertebrates and amphibians have evolved to use this temporary aquatic habitat. Wood frogs, spring peepers, and other frog species breed in the vernal pool, and red-backed salamanders live in the woods here too. Reach out to
Natural Area Preservation for more information on efforts to protect and restore Ann Arbor's natural areas. Click on the links below for Natural Area Preservation newsletter features on Sugarbush:
2000 Park Focus: Sugarbush by Jen Maigret
2017 Park Focus: Sugarbush Park, by Drew Zawacki