Natural Michigan: A Nature Lover's Guide to 228 Attractions
by Tom Powers
This guidebook has over 200 pages describing natural areas throughout the state, with directions & small maps. In earlier posts, I highlighted areas near Kalamazoo and areas in Southwest Michigan near the Indiana border. These areas, near Lansing, are just over an hour's drive from Kalamazoo.
Natural Areas near Lansing
1. Fox Park"Activity and this 35-acre Eaton Conty park centers around a long, narrow manmade lake." Beach, playground, 2 miles of trails for hiking or x-country skiing.
Directions:From I-69 take exit 66. Go north on M-100 about 1 mile to Gresham Avenue. West on Gresham to park entrance.
Fox Memorial Park
3981 E. Gresham Hwy.
Potterville, MI 48876
2. Fitzgerald County Park"Recently, geologically speaking, the Grand River cut through the rock and left a mile-log series of magnificent 270-million-year-old sandstone outcroppings." Trails, nature center, picnic areas, athletic fields, sled hill, cross-country ski rentals, canoe rental.
Directions:Take M-43 to Grand Ledge. Turn east on Jefferson Avenue to park entrance.
Fitzgerald County Park
133 Fitzgerald Park Drive
Grand Ledge, MI 48837
3. Woldumar Nature Center"Located on an old farm amid expressways, residential areas and urban sprawl, the 188-acre Woldumar Nature Center is an oasis to both wildlife and people." Trails, nature exhibits, gift shop, nature programs.
Directions: From I-96 take Exit 98B onto Lansing Road North . Proceed through Creyts Road traffic light and bear right at the fork. Woldumar is one-half mile from the light, on the right, or south side, of the road.
$1 trail fee
Woldumar Nature Center
5739 Old Lansing Road
4. Riverbend Natural Area"At Riverbend, there are plenty of opportunities for solitary walks, nature study, photography, or the search for wildflowers and birds along seven trails, which vary in length Timber Doodle Trail to the 1.3 mile Deer Run Trail." Hiking, cross-country skiing.
Directions: From I-69 take I-96 east to US 127. South on US 127 to Holt Road. West 2 miles on Holt to Aurelius. South on Aurelius 3 miles to Nichols Road. 3.5 miles west on Nichols to park entrance.
Riverbend Natural Area
6200 Nichols Road
5. Legg Park"The Red Cedar River is relatively small-- a good high school broad jumper could clear it in most places-- swift moving stream that almost twists itself in knots as it pases through deep woods southeast of Okemos." Trails, picnic area, cross-country skiing.
Directions: From E. Lansing, take M-43 (Grand River Avenue) east about 4 miles to Van Atta Road. South on Van Atta 2 miles to entrance.
3891 Van Atta Road
6. Baker Woodlot"Michigan State University's 173-acre Baker Woodlot holds a soul-stirring fragment of the great beech/maple climax forest that once blanketed much of southern Michigan." Trails.
Directions: On MSU's campus in E. Lansing at the intersection of Farm Lane and Service Road.
7. Beal Botanical Garden"W.J. Beal Garden, located in the heart of the Michigan State University campus, is a living tribute to a long line of talented gardeners and botanists." Garden beds, plant collections, 5000 different kinds of plants.
Directions: On MSU's campus on West Circle Drive next to the Main Library.
Beal Botanical Garden
8. Sanford Natural Area"Squeezed between the bustling Michigan State University campus on the south and a commercial strip bordering Grand River Avenue on the north is an exceptional wilderness area." Trails, birdwatching, Red Cedar River views, hardwood forest.
Directions: On the northeastern corner of MSU's campus in E. Lansing just south of the intersection of Hagadorn Road and Grand River Avenue.
Sanford Natural Area
9. Red Cedar Natural Area"The Red Cedar Natural area-- because it's much less accessible [then the Sanford natural area] and, thus, less frequently used-- seems much more remote and wild." hardwood forest, paths, Red Cedar River.
Directions: On the western edge of MSU's campus in E. Lansing, where Kalamazoo Street crosses the Red Cedar River.
Red Cedar Natural Area
10. Fenner Nature Center"The opportunity for solitude along an extensive system of nature trails within a city limits, plus a wide variety of fascinating exhibits and programs are reasons to visit Fenner Nature Center, a 120-acre city park located on the eastern edge of Lansing."
Directions: From US-127/I-496 in Lansing go south to Trowbridge Road exit, East on Trowbridge to Harrison. Harrison south to Mt Hope Road. West on Mt Hope 1.5 miles to entrance.
Fenner Nature Center
2020 E. Mt. Hope Ave.
Lansing, MI 48910
11. Rose Lake Wildlife Research Center"The Rose Lake Wildlife Research Center is one of the most underrated and overlooked great birdwatching areas in the state." 231 bird species, 41 mammals, walking, cross country skiing, hunting, fishing, 3,646 acres.
Directions: from Lansing, take I-69 12 miles northeast to exit 94. Turn east onto old M-78, then .5 mile to Upton Road. North on Upton 1.5 miles to Stoll Road. East on Stoll to headquarters.
Rose Lake map [pdf]
Rose Lake Wildlife Research Center
8562 E. Stoll Road
E. Lansing, MI 48823
12. Maple River State Game Area"The 1,200 acres of the Wetland Wildlife Management Units of the Maple River State Game Area make up the largest wetland complex in central Michigan." Birdwatching, photography, hiking on dikes, observation tower.
Directions: On US-127 about 8 miles north of St Johns, MI. Parking area 1/2 mile north of Maple River. For other parking areas go north to Ranger Road then east or west to first intersection then south to parking.
Maple River State Game Area
13. Brock Park"Those in the know turn off M-21 and slip under the canopy of thick, towering hardwoods and evergreens that shelter a sprawling, secluded campground and a beautiful picnic area bisected by a bright, swift-moving stream." Picnic areas, trails, camping, cross-country skiing, sledding.
Directions:From Ionia go 3 miles west on M-21.
Bertha Brock Park
2311 West Bluewater Highway
Ionia, MI 48846
This book may be out of print. Amazon and Barnes & Noble may have copies through their affiliates. I found it at my local library.