Outdoor enthusiasts in the Ann Arbor area now have two new miles of paved trail to blaze as of Saturday.

The trail will connect hikers and bikers to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens northeast of Ann Arbor, Nicols Arboretum and Gallup Park’s Border-to-Border bike trails along the Huron River, offering a pathway to the Matthaei gardens that doesn’t require a car.

Karen Sikkenga, associate director of the botanical gardens, said in a University press release she hopes the trail will ease motor vehicle traffic to the gardens, noting the number of visitors to Matthaei gardens has been increasing year to year.

“Currently more than 135,000 visitors each year carpool, ride a bike or drive a car to get to Matthaei. The new trail will allow them to leave their cars safely behind,” she said.

The new trail additionally expands the extensive network of motorless routes on the northeastern edge of Ann Arbor city and township, connecting the University Hospital, Central and North Campuses, among other destinations, such as Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.

The project was constructed through a multi-year collaboration between the University — which houses the trail — and Ann Arbor Charter Township. $2.5 million was raised for the project through a combination of local, county and township grants, and an additional $800,000 raised from close to 150 local individuals and neighboring companies, including Toyota and NSF.

Mike Moran, Ann Arbor Charter Township supervisor, said in the press release he was pleased with the collaboration between local stakeholders to open the trail.

“It’s an excellent example of what can be accomplished when the township, the university, county government, state government, local corporate entities and citizens work together to achieve a common goal,” Moran said.

LSA junior Miranda Miley was excited about the new addition to the already-extensive network of outdoor trails north of Central Campus. 

“I think in the Arb the trails are especially nice and I’m really excited that there is now a trail out to the botanical gardens,” Miley said. “It would be nice to have other trails that extend out of the immediate campus area to other places or parks in the surrounding areas.” 

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