The Leonard Preserve is the largest natural area in the County's system of NAPP preserves, 259 acres that protect nearly one mile of River Raisin shoreline. Located just northwest of the Village of Manchester, this rich and diverse landscape includes rolling hills, woodlands, wetlands, prairie and former pasture land. The diversity of habitats makes for very good wildlife viewing. Wood ducks, coyotes, blue racers, and Blanding’s turtles are some of the animals you may see at this preserve.
Put on your hiking boots because there are over four miles of nature trails. Be sure to visit the south end of the Leonard Preserve. Here you will find a 10-acre prairie remnant, which is home to some uncommon wildflowers and grassland nesting birds. The prairie grasses often grow over five feet tall by autumn. If you enjoy expansive vistas, a hike to the southernmost hills in any season is worth the effort!
The purchase of the Leonard Preserve in 2004 was made possible by an alliance between Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation and The Nature Conservancy. By purchasing the historic farm house and surrounding 40 acres of land, The Nature Conservancy enabled Washtenaw County's Natural Areas Preservation Program to acquire the remaining 205 acres, protecting nearly one mile of River Raisin shoreline and riverine habitat. Collaboration in action! A 32-acre addition along the southern boundary, purchased from the Beaudoin family in 2005, slopes to the west providing lovely scenic vistas of the western skyline and a relatively unusual habitat known as dry sand prairie.
In 2009 the Schaffer Trust Property was purchased adding 22 acres just across the river from the original Leonard Preserve. At present access to this new addition will be from the river via canoe or kayak.
Directions: From I-94: Exit #159 (M-52), southbound. Take M-52 approximately 10.5 miles, turn right onto Main Street. Turn right on Union Street. The preserve entrance is at the end of Union Street, off Main Street/Austin Road in the Village of Manchester (west of the Manchester downtown area). Head north on Union Street, when the street bears left and turns to gravel you will see the preserve entry sign. Keep going, parking area on the right.