Nichols Arboretum and the Huron River in Ann Arbor

Nichols Arboretum and the Huron River in Ann Arbor.

Summertime means spending time outdoors; without a huge backyard for the kids to run around, my husband and I often take the kids to local parks or the botanical gardens. We recently spent a warm Saturday afternoon cooling off at Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, where I was able to get in a little cross training as part of my half marathon training, and the kids could run around to their hearts’ content.

Nichols Arboretum Ann Arbor Michigan

Park that bike and head on in to Nichols Arboretum.

Growing up in Ann Arbor, I’ve been to the Arb many times. The Arb was a 123-acre gift to the University of Michigan for use by students and the local folk, as explained in this handy plaque.

Nichols Arboretum Plaque

Quite a gift, no?

Nichols Arboretum hiking trail ann arbor

Walking the trails at Nichols Arboretum.

Just past the iron gates is a path that eventually leads to the Huron River. My kids love to run ahead and follow the path, chasing down the random squirrel or bird that lands in their path.

A little further down the path is a scenic overlook, with views of the interior parts of the Arb and the University of Michigan campus.

Nichols Arboretum Overlook Ann Arbor Michigan

Taking in the sights at the Arb.

From there, you can follow the path or take a turn and descent a multitude of stairs to get to the lower part of the Arb. This time, we took the stairs — with the intention of climbing back up the stairs as some sort of self-torture cross-training activity.

Nichols Arboretum Ann Arbor Stairs

Looks easy, right?

So down the stairs we went. Some ninety eight stairs, by my count.

Climbing Nichols Arboretum Stairs Ann Arbor

Going up….

And then up, and up, and up some more …  until finally reaching the overlook. Legs burning, it was time to go back down and find my family, then make our way to the river.

Canoes on the Huron River in Ann Arbor

Rollin’ down the Huron River.

We found it, and were surprised to see how many boaters were out that day. A steady stream of canoes and kayaks made their way along the river, passing the benches and stairs where people were sitting and watching the river.

Huron River view Nichols Arboretum

More river views.

The kids, of course, quickly tired of watching the boaters and decided to go into the water themselves. While it might have been a warm and sunny afternoon, the water was still chilly. That didn’t stop them from going nearly knee-deep in it, though.

Huron River feet in the sand

Muddy feet are happy feet.

We sat down and had a snack, and the kids had their eyes on this train bridge, hoping to see a train or two pass by. (No such luck.)

Huron River amtrak Train Bridge ann arbor

Train bridge

How do you cool off on a warm summer day?

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