This is NOT an in-person event. Sierra Club group outings are currently suspended indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
These Exercise Guides are intended to assist and encourage exploration of parks and natural areas in the Huron Valley Group region. Please enjoy them on your own or, using appropriate social distancing and masks, with others.
The Nan Weston Preserve is a beautiful woods along the River Raisin in SW Washtenaw County's Sharon Township. It is sandwiched between Sharon Mills County Park and the Sharonville State Game Area. It has an amazing variety of native plants throughout the preserve, with very few invasives.
Nan Weston is a great place to catch spring ephemerals. Right now, the Hepatica and Marsh Marigolds are in bloom. Skunk cabbage blooms are fading, being replaced by unfurling leaves as the wetlands green up. Waterleaf, cutleaved toothwart, and (I think) Dutchman's breeches are all coming in, but no blooms as of April 6. By mid-May the woods will be awash in Trillium.
The woods has lots of beeches, including some big, older trees and lots of young ones (still holding onto their leaves in the photo above). Look carefully and you'll find some beech drops, a fungus that grows only around mature beeches.
Down by the river there is lots of evidence of beaver activity. If you follow the trail along the River Raisin, going east toward Sharon Mills, there is an active heronry, but bring your binoculars. Please obey the signs and stop where they ask you to stop: the trail is cordoned off about 100m from the heronry to avoid disturbing the nesting birds. After the nestlings fledge, probably late-June, the trail will be re-opened and you can hike into Sharon Mills County park.
Since you can't currently hike to Sharon Mills from Nan Weston, stop by Sharon Mills on your way home (the Sharon Mills parking lot is right at the little jog from Eustades to Sharon Hollow to Pleasant Lake Rd). Walk down to the River Raisin to see the beaver lodge out in the river and more evidence of beaver activity.
NOTE: Dogs are *not* allowed in Nan Weston Preserve. They are welcome in Sharon Mills Park.