The best of Wurster Park: food nearby, a view and a giant old oak
The Washtenaw Dairy is 1.5 miles from our house. So on a warm summer evening, we like to walk there with Jameson in the stroller and Alex on his bike. On the way home, a visit to the park is certainly called for, so that the boys can wear themselves out before bed.
Wurster Park is a neighborhood park in the Old West Side, with access from West Madison Street, West Mosely Street and Edgewood Place (which has the best potential for parking). For those seeking sustenance for a picnic in Wurster Park, it is located three blocks from the Washtenaw Dairy, two from the Jefferson Market and Cakery, and four from the South Main Street shops and restaurants. There is a grill, several picnic tables, and a few benches.
For youthful entertainment, Wurster Park has a modern play structure, swings for all sizes and a sand area. For those seeking a more sporting visit, Wurster Park has a sand volleyball court (bring your own net), a horseshoe pit (bring your own shoes), 5.5 acres of mowed fields, and a hill which can be used for sledding. In the summer, a tri-level drinking fountain is available for taller humans, shorter humans, and canines of all sizes.
Wurster Park offers a view of downtown Ann Arbor’s skyline which is best seen in late fall, winter, and early spring before the trees leaf out. But don’t leave the park before seeing the largest chinkapinÂ oak (Quercus muelnbergii) in the state, according to the Michigan Big Tree List. Although it’s not the largest in the country, this tree has a girth of just under 18-feet. It’s base is roughly 7 feet in diameter. This tree is old. How old? I know not. But the longest lived chinkapin oak on record was recorded in Iowa in 1983, having lived 278 years, says the Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research.
I suggest seeing this tree, which is located in the wooded area west of the sand volleyball court, plus the giant burr oaks adjacent to the paved trail between the play structure and Madison, before they die of natural causes or an oak-specific disease or insect makes its way to our shores.
Photo: Giant burr oak at Wurster Park - not the famed chinkapin oak which lies in the wooded area west of the sand volleyball court.