Woods Creek today flows through farms, wetlands, and large and medium yards, but 10,000 years ago it was under ancient Lake Erie. As the Lake receded, it left behind a flat lake plain made up of clay and silt, with some sand and gravel areas downstream. As settlers moved into the area, they named the stream Woods Creek, after the Wood family, because they held Van Buren Township’s first meeting in Matthew Wood’s home in 1827. The name also fit the creekshed’s landscape of woodland swamps, most of which the settlers promptly cleared and drained to make way for farms.
Woods Creek itself eventually became a county drain (Griggs Drain), but in 2008 members of Woods Creek Friends, a local citizens’ watershed advocacy group, worked with HRWC and the Wayne Co. Dept. of Environment to reinstate the original name to reflect the clean, pleasant, pastoral setting the creek enjoys along much of its length. “Griggs Drain” is still the official name on maps and according to state and federal government.
Woods Creek has 25 miles of branching stream channels, and drains 10 square miles of land. From the highest headwater to the mouth, the creek’s elevation drops 86 feet. The average slope is 12.5 feet per mile, making Woods Creek one of the flattest of creeks in the Huron Watershed (16 feet per mile is the average). There is one unnamed lake (open water > 5 acres) in the Woods creekshed, an impoundment created by a dam. There are 4 ponds (open water < 5 acres) which appear to be artificial. The creekshed lies in several municipalities: Van Buren and Sumpter Townships, the City of Belleville, and Ypsilanti Township.