UPDATE: The short version.
There is no legal parking at Saginaw Forest. Parking anywhere in the front gate area is not permitted (which is why there are "NO PARKING" signs there), even if it isn't directly in front of the gate. (Do read the signs -- they indicate a total lack of legal parking at the main entrance to the forest.) If a vehicle is found to be parking there, DPS will be called, a ticket will be issued, and the vehicle may be towed. Additionally, parking anywhere along Liberty Road is also not permitted, and if a vehicle is found there, the University of Michigan Department of Public Safety will be called, and the vehicle will be ticketed, and likely towed.
Where should a person park?
Street parking is permitted on Westview Way, which is 400 feet west of the main entrance to Saginaw Forest. This is the closest legal place to park. Some people do use parking at the Liberty Business Plaza, located immediately east of Saginaw Forest, but since the parking in these lots is for users of those businesses, any vehicles parked there may be towed. Furthermore, parking at the PALL parking lots is strictly enforced by a security team for that property. After one warning, your vehicle will be towed (their security team keeps a log of license plates).
Saginaw Forest is not a public park and is not maintained as one. It is a research facility, and access to this facility is maintained for classes, researchers, public safety officers, and the caretaker. Although public use of the facility is welcome from 6am - 6pm, all non-official users must find other legal means of entering the facility, or be prepared to accept the consequences of not doing so. If you wish to use a forested park, Dolph Park is located nearby, and is 57 acres of trails, hills, and water all managed by the city of Ann Arbor for the public. There is even a conveniently located parking area for this nature park on Wagner Road as well as street parking on the east side of the park near Parklake and Lakewood.
UPDATE: New signs have been posted (at windshield level) indicating that all of the main entrance is a no-parking zone. If you are reading this because you saw the sign, thank you for being considerate of the proper use of this research facility.
Use of the Forest
Public use of Saginaw Forest is encouraged. Rules for the public's use include (but are not limited to):
- No parking in front of the access gate.
- Public use hours are from 6am to 6pm only; no camping on the site!
- No vehicles or bicycles are permitted on the site except those for approved research and teaching use (bike parking available at the main gate).
- Dogs with owners are welcome to visit, but they must be on a leash. (Also see here.)
- Dog owners must carry out all pet waste; please bring your own doggie bag to do so.
- No cutting or collecting of plant material; no hunting or harming vertebrates (this includes no fishing).
- No smoking.