Natural Michigan: A Nature Lover's Guide to 228 Attractions
by Tom Powers
This guidebook describes over 200 natural areas throughout the state, with directions & small maps and some black & white photos. In my first post on this guidebook, I selected areas closest to Kalamazoo. Here are a few more suggestions, a bit further south, but still reasonably close to Kalamazoo.
Southwest Michigan Natural Areas
1. Sarret Nature Center
"There, in a gallery of manmade structures-- towers, elevated platforms, benches, boardwalks, and an extensive system of woodchip covered paths-- you can view 350 acres of swamp and floodplain forest from a wide range of perspectives." Nature trails, birdwatching, visitor center.
directions:from I-94, east of Benton Harbor, take I-196 north 1 mile to Red Arrow Highway (first exit). West on Red Arrow to Benton Center Road (first intersection). North on Benton Center 3/4 mile to entrance. 2300 Benton Center Rd, Benton Harbor.
Sarret Nature Center
2. Love Creek Nature Center
"Your camera will also come in handy during walks down any of the 200-acre center's 13 nature trails." Visitor center, wildflowers, hiking, birdwatching, cross county skiing.
directions: From Berrien Springs take M-139 (Old US-31)southeast to Pokagon Road. East on Pokagon, 2 miles to Huckleberry Road. 1 mile north on Huckleberry to entrance. 9228 Huckleberry Rd, Berrien Center
Love Creek Nature Center
3. Dayton Creek Wet Prairie Preserve
"This quietly spectacular preserve holds one of the last vestiges of a 15,000-acre prairie that at one time spread over much of the Michigan/Indiana border." 47 acres, Nature Conservancy, wildflowers, wet!
directions: From US-31 exit onto US-12, then 2 miles west to Red Bud Trail. South on Red Bud 2 miles to Curran Road. West on Curran, 2 miles to preserve.
4. Bertrand Park
"This heavily wooded 121-acre Berrien County park is as pleasing to the senses today as it must have been to the Indians who passed through it on the Saul and Chicago trails and to the French voyageurs who paddled their fur-laden canoes down the historic St. Joseph River, which marks the park's west boundary." Hiking, birding, picnic shelters, playgrounds, disc golf, cross country ski trails.
directions: From Niles take M-51 south 2 miles to Ontario Drive. East on Ontario 1/2 mile to Adams Road. 1/2 mile south on Adams to park entrance. Admission
Madeline Bertrand County Park
5. Trillium Ravine Plant Preserve
"Press on through all this natural beauty until you get to a V-shaped ravine with almost geometrically perfect sides. By late spring its steep slopes are blanketed in a rich, dense green that from a distance looks like the felt covering on a pool table." Wildflowers, mature hardwoods, toadshade and prairie trillium (bloom as early as April 9th), Michigan Nature Association, 15 acres.
directions: From Niles, north on Business US-31 to Walton Road (US 31). Southwest on Walton to Geyer Road. 0.6 miles east on Geyer to preserve.
6. Fernwood, Inc.
"Fernwood, a 105-acre privately owned preserve and botanical garden on the east bank of the St. Joseph River where you can enjoy the peace and beauty of nature from a garden gazebo, a riverbank, the midst of a garden, or a hillside full of azaleas." Nature trails, arboretum, garden beds, greenhouse.
directions: From Niles, take US 12 west 4 miles to Red Bud Trail. North on Red Bud to Walton Road to Range Line Road.
13988 Range Line Road.
Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve
7. Dowagiac Woods
"Spring is without a doubt the best time to visit, Fifty different blooming species of wildflowers literally carpet the forest floor then in a spectacular display." Trails, wildflowers, birdwatching, Michigan Nature Association.
directions: From Dowagiac, 4 miles west on M-62 then south 1 mile on Sink Road to Frost Road. 1 miles east on Frost to parking area.
8. Russ Forest Park
"At this Cass County park, you have the rare opportunity to picnic, hike and study nature in a national Natural Landmark that also serves as a living research laboratory." Nature trails, Newton Woods, old growth hardwoods, trout stream, picnic area & playground.
directions: Eight miles west of Marcellus on Marcellus Highway.
Fred Russ Forest Park
9. Dr T.K. Lawless County Park
"A covey of knobby hills and deep hollows ripple the parks landscape." Trails, birdwatching, picnic area with sports fields, cross-country skiing.
directions:From Vandalia, east on M-60, two miles to Lewis Lake Road. South on Lewis to Monkey Run St. East on Monkey Run .5 mile to park entrance.
Dr. T.K. Lawless Park
10. White Pigeon River Nature Sanctuary
"Fifty-eight acres of steep hillsides, old river channels, flooded bottomlands, lagoons and riverbanks, plus a riot of plant and animal life are good reasons to visit and explore this premier example of the work of the Michigan Nature Association." Birding, wildflowers, nature trail.
directions: From White Pigeon, West on US 12 then South on Burke Road. Park at intersection of Burke & Silver Creek Road.
White Pigeon River Nature Sanctuary
11. Pahl Point Park
"On the face of it, this small St. Joseph County park hardly seems worth going out of your way to visit." Diverse habitat, birding, covered bridge, wildflowers.
directions: from Mendon, 3 miles West on M-60, then South 3.3 miles on Silver St.
St. Joseph County Parks
This book may be out of print. Amazon and Barnes & Noble may have copies through their affiliates. I found it at my local library.