Weekend Trail Report: Narnia Next Door – Stinchfield Woods

I had the chance to get out Saturday in the dwindling aftermath of Snowmageddon 2018. The 10 inches or so of snow that had fallen meant primo snowshoeing conditions and when it comes to snowshoeing, there is no place I’d rather be than Stinchfield Woods.

Stinchfield Woods is 700 acres of land purchased by The University of Michigan back in the 1930’s from a lumber company. The University has preserved the area since then for research, most notably for their observatory and 88-foot diameter radio telescope dish. Another natural feature of the property, Peach Mountain, is home to U of M’s radio broadcasting tower.

Located approximately on the northwest quadrant at the Dexter-Pinckney Road and North Territorial intersection, Stinchfield Woods is a beautiful retreat only minutes from Dexter. The main entrance is on Stinchfield Woods Road, but I wouldn’t go there. There are only a few parking spots and because of the popularity of the place, these are always full. Instead, just about a quarter-mile west on N Territorial from Dexter-Pinckney Road is Kidsland Montessori Preschool and Daycare. These folks are terrific and generously share their large parking lot for access to Stinchfield Woods.

From the parking lot, walk across North Territorial and down the long access road that leads back to Dexter Animal Clinic. Down the road a bit is a gate, keep going. Further on, you’ll see paths going off to the right and left just before reaching the hollowed-out bowl of Washtenaw County’s old gravel pit, overgrown with trees and brush now.

There are no trail signs, but here’s a good map. The gravel pit I’m steering you to is in the lower right corner of the map, next to the legend. Pay attention out there. Its easy to lose your direction if you’re unfamiliar with the woods. I’ve played hero to a lot folks who get turned around and are trying to find their way out. My suggestion for newcomers is to bring a compass, (know how to use the compass), and maybe just carve out small sections of the area becoming familiar with a little bit at first, and then adding to that incrementally.

Every season is a whole new world outdoors, especially in Stinchfield Woods. Out among the tall trees you may see, or hear the pileated woodpecker or maybe the big snowy owl that once grabbed a rabbit rabbit in front of me. When out there, I usually circle around and pay homage to the huge deep-space radio telescope wondering what hidden mysteries it has been exploring. Stinchfield Woods is a quiet place, a different world you’ll certainly be sure to enjoy.

Here are a few photos from Saturday’s jaunt in the snow.

View from N Territorial down the access road
Mill Creek Middle School Vice Principal Brett Pedersen enjoying some great skiing with friends







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