Swift Run runs along the Defiance Moraine, which marks the beginning of the ancient Lake Erie lake plain to the east. Before European settlement, the creek originated from a forested hardwood swamp, then flowed through oak hickory forest and oak barren landscapes before meeting the Huron River. As Ann Arbor was founded, the Swift Run creekshed became an important residential and commercial area. It now holds many well know locations, such as Arborland Mall, Washtenaw Community College, and Lillie Park.
Swift Run is relatively small creekshed in the Huron. It begins in farm fields in Pittsfield Township, flows through the City of Ann Arbor’s landfill, under the US 23 and Washtenaw Avenue interchange, and into South Pond before entering the Huron River at Gallup Park. The creek falls primarily in the city of Ann Arbor, but several parts of the creekshed are in Pittsfield and Ann Arbor townships, and the very eastern edge of the creekshed is in Superior and Ypsilanti Townships.
Swift Run is primarily a single channel, about 4.8 miles in length. Some of the channel does not have flowing water during dry weather. The creek’s average slope is 17 feet per mile, which is average compared to the other tributaries to the Huron River (16 feet per mile is average). Haven Lake, a reclaimed gravel mine in Lillie Park, is the only lake in the creekshed (open water greater than 5 acres). There are 8 ponds (open water less than 5 acres), two of which are in line with Swift Run, close to where it passes under I-94 (they are too small to be seen on the map above). Several more of the ponds are located along Washtenaw Avenue in Ypsilanti, where they assist with stormwater retention.