Ringwood Forest

Property Size:  160 acres

Location: Southwest Saginaw County, approximately 100 miles north of Ann Arbor. Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/voTBrTEEjn72

Driving Time:  1 hour and 45 min.

Access:  The site is managed as a publically accessible park by Saginaw County. It includes access to a parking lot on the south side of the property from Ring Rd. and marked trails. For research or education use contact SEAS-Facilities@umich.edu.

History:  Ringwood Forest was originally part of the great pine forests of Michigan. The pines were logged on this site in 1862 by Eleazer Ring. Fires followed the logging and most of the land remained open for farming after the fires. In 1883 red and white pine were planted on the south side of the Bad River and a Norway spruce alley near the entrance to the property. In 1920 the Ford Motor Company purchased the hardwoods and clear-cut the timber. The land was presented to the University of Michigan in 1930 by Clark Ring for use related to forestry research, demonstration, and education. From 1930-1941, SNRE conducted an extensive planting program on the property which consisted of primarily pine. Fire lanes were also developed. From 1930-1950 several timber sales took place. Since the mid 1950’s management of this site has been less extensive. In 1983 the University of Michigan entered into an agreement with Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission that allowed Ringwood Forest to be used by the Commission for public forestry education and recreation. The park opened to the public in 1987.


Buildings/Infrastructure: There are 3.5 miles of marked trails, a canoe launch, a children’s play area, and a pavilion and bathrooms. There are no SEAS-owned buildings on site.

St. Charles
160 acres
600-615 ft above sea level
Ecological Features: 

Ringwood Forest is surrounded mostly by wooded and agricultural land. The forest within the property includes young and old plantations of confers and hardwoods, second-growth hardwoods stands, and both upland and floodplain forests. The conifers in the red and white pine plantations and “Historic Spruce Alley” (Norway spruce) planted in the late 1800s are of historical significance—they are thought to be some of the oldest plantations in the state. Other species found in upland areas include Chamaecyparis thyoides, Larix laricina, Pinus banksiana, Populus temuloides, Pseudotsuga menziessi, and Robinia pseudoacacia.  Bottomland species include Acer rubrum, Fraxinus nigra, Populus deltoids and Quercus bicolor.  

The South Fork of Bad River flows over 3,300 feet through the forest and is between 30-50 feet wide. The Bad River is a 44.3-mile-long river that begins in Gratiot County and empties into the Shiawassee River in Saginaw County within the bounds of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. The Bad River watershed is almost 90% agricultural and is a part of sediment reduction programs to ultimately protect the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.


Soil:  The soil type ranges from well-drained sands on the ridges and upland areas, to more poorly drained loamy and clay loams in the flood plain. A majority of the site is poorly drained.


Topography:  Ringwood Forest is slightly rolling with an elevation change of about 20 feet throughout the site. The greatest slopes are found on the flood plain and range from 10-25%.  Forty percent of the site is within the flood plain.

Distance from campus: 
100 miles northwest
Open to Public?: 
9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Pavilion, playground, pit bathrooms, and canoe launch.

Current uses: 

Current Research Use:
Early research focused on forestry and silvicultural practices (see list of publications). Existing research in nearby Shiawassee NWR.

Current Public Use & Outreach Activities:
As a public park, Ringwood Forest is used widely for recreation, including hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ringwood-Forest/249157128547460


Given the distance from campus, Ringwood Forest has been less often used by UM for research or education. However, the site’s more northern location offers a different plant community than the Ann Arbor area to current and future SEAS faculty and researchers. This site also contains significant historical plantations and access to a river in an agricultural watershed that connects to Lake Huron.

Specific additional opportunities at this site:
• Collaborative studies on flood plain with nearby research universities
• Site extension of existing Shiawassee NWR research
• Studies of public engagement within a county park with forestry history
• Access to Bad River watershed for assessments related to land use and water quality issues
• A half-way point stop on way to the UM Biostation in Pellston.


Currently leased to Saginaw County as a county park.