Mary Beth Doyle is an 85-acre park on the south side of Ann Arbor. It is located to the south of Packard Street, between Stone School Road and Platt Road. View the Ann Arbor Parks and Nature Areas Map for location context. The park was called Brown Park until 2006, which is a name you will still find online and in old articles. A mix of attractions can be found at the park including a playground, basketball court, disc golf course and a large wetland area with native flowers. There is a paved circular path, accessible from the Birch Hollow Drive parking lot, that goes around the pond and wetland area. The paved path connects to other neighborhood access points, including a connection to the neighborhood to the south (which is home to Arbor Oaks Park and Bryant Community Center) at Plainview Court and Braeburn Circle via a pedestrian I-94 overpass.
More than half of the park is a wooded natural area that has trails meandering throughout along Mallets Creek. The trails are a mix of natural footpaths and narrow wooden boardwalks that were a Boy Scout Eagle project. These paths through the natural area can be very wet and muddy during certain times of the year. Several species of beautiful native wildflowers can be found in the natural area including trillium and trout lilies - which can be primarily found blooming in the spring. For this reason, it is important to walk carefully and stick to walking on the designated trails. The property adjoins the Swift Run Nature Area providing access to additional trails which can expand your walking circuit and enjoyment of this area. Be sure to check out these two virtual tours of Mary Beth Doyle Park hosted by Amy Lipson at Natural Area Preservation and presented by CTN in spring 2020.
Natural Area Preservation (NAP) performs prescribed burns to limit the growth of non-native invasive plant species and stimulate the growth of native plants. NAP performs maintenance and restoration projects at Mary Beth Doyle annually. You can find more information related to Mary Beth Doyle Park in a 2008 Natural Area Preservation newsletter: 2008 Park Focus: Mary Beth Doyle, by Dana Novak.
Mary Beth Doyle Park currently has two rain gardens that collect water from the Birch Hollow Drive and Packard Drive parking lots, along with the detention basin and mitigation wetland created after the 2006-2008 storm water improvements. The care and maintenance of these rain gardens and wetland areas is coordinated by the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner's Office. The detention basin and mitigation wetland area is designed to accommodate drastically varying water levels. At some times during the year, it can be quite dry with little standing water. At other times, there can be a significant amount of standing water, primarily after a heavy rain event, that moves slowly downstream and permeates into the soil. Many species of native wildflowers can be found in these areas including black-eyed Susan, New England aster, blue-flag iris and more.
Access and Parking
There are multiple entry points to Mary Beth Doyle Park. The main park entrance is at 3500 Birch Hollow Drive, which is off of Stone School Road and is within the Mill Creek Townhomes complex. There is a parking lot at this entrance and is near many of the park's amenities including the playground, basketball court and disc golf course.
There is an additional parking lot off Packard at 2850 Packard St and there are park entrances at the end of Woodmanor Court and Verle Avenue. There is also a path connection to Rose Park and the Hikone Community Center on the north side of the park.
The paved path throughout Mary Beth Doyle connects to the neighborhood to the south (which is home to Arbor Oaks Park and Bryant Community Center) at Plainview Court and Braeburn Circle via a pedestrian I-94 overpass.
Public transportation: The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (The Ride) operates the public transit system for greater Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area. There are stops on Platt Road and Stone School Road which are both about a half mile to the east and west of the park. Visit The Ride for route and schedule details and check out the parks ride guide.
Using a phone? - Click for a GPS Tracker and Wayfinding Map
There are ongoing and limitless opportunities for volunteering and getting engaged with the Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Services Unit. Natural Area Preservation has volunteer opportunities that support their mission to protect and restore Ann Arbor's natural areas and to foster an environmental ethic among its citizens. GIVE 365 and the seasonal Adopt-a-Park Program offer volunteer opportunities in the mowed park areas. If you are feeling the call to volunteer or give some time, reach out or explore the websites above to see what’s upcoming or how to get involved.
Report a Problem - A2 Fix It
To report maintenance issues, or other problem during your park visit, please report through A2Fix It. Parks are large spaces and A2 Fix It requests can be difficult to find without detailed information. When reporting an issue in a park please include location details. There is a details and description section near the end of the request process to help you provide this. In addition, users can utilize the pin (website) or X (mobile app) feature to provide specific location information inside the park. Finally, please consider including a wide angle photo or include background landmarks, which helps staff find and fix the problem.
Gifts and Donations
Information on donating to the parks and the Guide to Giving can be found here. Alternatively if you have a special project or park improvement idea that you want to donate your time and energy toward, a great place to start is through Adopt-a-Park and the proposing a special park project guide. For information on donating a tree through Adopt-a-Park, the tree donation guide can help you get started. For special projects ideas in natural areas, Natural Area Preservation staff will guide you and provide project guidelines unique to natural areas.
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 here.
Park Development History 1970s-1990s
The city acquired the land in the early 1970's, which was known as the Brown property. In late 1970's the city of Ann Arbor entered a lease agreement with Washtenaw County to lease the land remaining from their Pittsfield-Ann Arbor drain retention pond construction site for use as a neighborhood park to serve the area bounded by Packard Rd, Platt Rd, I-94 and Stone School Rd.
In 1979, the park began to see major developments including the provision of a pedestrian/bicycle path, a play equipment area, a basketball court, a neighborhood softball diamond and an open field play area. Input from the Southeast Neighborhood Community Development Citizens Committee was incorporated into these improvements. During these changes, an existing path and fencing were reconfigured to allow more convenient access to and from the adjacent Hikone public housing site.
In 1995, the park underwent more changes which included the installation of playground equipment, new surfacing for the play area, ADA access improvements, landscaping, creation of two limestone parking areas, repair of asphalt walkways and the installation of the disc golf course. Prior to the construction, the city sent a survey to the surrounding neighborhood and two public meetings were held to gain input for the improvement plan. Around this time, a steel pedestrian bridge was installed over Mallets Creek.
Park Development History 2000's
From 2006 to 2008 the park underwent a major storm water project that kept portions of the park closed to the public. The project was initiated by the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner and was a collaboration with the city of Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to improve water quality in Mallets Creek. Prior to these changes, Mallets Creek flowed almost straight through the north portion of the park. During a heavy rain event, the water level would rise and the creek's flow would increase drastically leading to streambank erosion, water pollution and flooding downstream. The project design goals were to improve water quality and habitat, protects Mallets Creek and to enhance aesthetics, recreation and education opportunities. The park now contains a 12-acre wetland which can collect fifteen million gallons of storm water runoff and allows it to drain slowly. During construction, 31,263 plugs of 25 species of grasses and forbs were planted along the water's edge, along with seeding of eight acres. These native plants provide habitat and food for wildlife, take up some of the collected storm water and help to break down pollutants. The park enhancements also included a new pedestrian path and pedestrian bridge, parking lot expansion and relocating the existing disc golf course.
During the storm water project, the existing disc golf course was partially removed and then reconfigured in 2009. During this time, the course site was prepped and 26 concrete pads and 19 baskets were installed. Also in 2009, the city installed new playground equipment which replaced older models that were removed due to changing safety standards.
Renaming of Mary Beth Doyle Park
In April 2006, Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution to change the name from Brown Park to Mary Beth Doyle Park. The new name celebrates the life of Mary Beth Doyle, who is recognized as one of Michigan's most prominent environmental advocates who passed away in 2004.
During her professional career she worked at the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and Ann Arbor's Ecology Center, in addition to serving on the Ann Arbor Environmental Commission. Mary Beth's environmental work included local, state and national efforts in the Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County area and elsewhere. She worked with professionals, policy makers and other stakeholders to increase awareness of endocrine disrupting chemicals, and the links between public and environmental health. Mary Beth also worked with several communities throughout Michigan to help address toxic pollution problems. This included a successful campaign to shut down the Henry Ford Hospital incinerator in Detroit, which was a source of air toxins in the community. In Ann Arbor, Mary Beth coordinated the grassroots portion of the successful People for Parks campaign to pass a citizen-initiated millage proposal for parkland acquisition. The program was later expanded into several Ann Arbor parks and greenbelt programs. She also helped pass a ban on mercury thermometers in Ann Arbor, which was the third ban in the country, and she later advocated for the statewide ban.
Listen to the WEMU 89.1 radio segment called "Issues of the Environment: Women's History Month - The Life and Legacy of Mary Beth Doyle" from March 2021. During the segment, WEMU 89.1 host David Fair speaks to Mary Beth's mentee, colleague and friend Rebecca Mueninck from the Ann Arbor Ecology Center.
During your next visit to the park, we encourage you to remember Mary Beth Doyle and her contributions to improving the quality of life in our community and moving Michigan towards a healthier and more sustainable future.
The Mary Beth Doyle Park disc golf course was reconstructed in 2010 when the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commission rebuilt the stormwater pond. The course winds around the pond and through a wooded area. This is an 18-hole course with two tee pads per hole.
In 2021 the city acquired an additional 3.8 acres of undeveloped land to expand Mary Beth Doyle Park's nature area further to the east. The city paid $1.5 million for the land, which had originally been intended to be developed into more housing. This brought the total size of Mary Beth Doyle to 85 acres of land. This addition faciliates another trailhead into the park.
The Ann Arbor-Saline Target has been an adopter of Mary Beth Doyle Park since spring 2021. This group holds several volunteer events each year to remove litter and help in the park's rain gardens. We love having a dedicated group to provide the extra TLC and stewardship that makes the park even more beautiful and inviting for all! Contact Adopt-a-Park if you would like to learn more about volunteer activities in Mary Beth Doyle Park and to learn about how you can be involved.
Springtime Nature Walk in Mary Beth Doyle Park, Part 1
Springtime Nature Walk in Mary Beth Doyle Park, Part 2
Updated February 2023. Email
for incorrect/outdated information.