Michigan's Best Nature Centers and Wilderness Preserves

Michigan's Best Nature Centers and Wilderness Preserves

by Matt Forster
Michigan's Best Nature Centers and Wilderness Preserves

Michigan's Best Nature Centers and Wilderness Preserves

by Matt Forster


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Explore More of Michigan’s Wild Places

Plan a trip to these special destinations, and find rare beauty at some of the finest wilderness preserves and nature centers in the country. Michigan’s state and national parks are renowned for their splendor; similarly, and equally stunning, the wilderness preserves and nature centers of the Great Lakes State beckon with adventure and beauty. This book by Michigan native Matt Forster is your introduction to 54 natural and scenic locales—and why you should visit each one. Discover hidden gems that most visitors, even residents, might not know about, with full-color photographs, highlights, and neat-to-know details about each site. There are even programs for children and field trip opportunities. The sites are organized by region, providing a good introduction to Michigan’s geography and ecosystems. So learn about and enjoy the protected, peaceful, and pure outdoor wonders of Michigan. You’ll like what you find here.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591936800
Publisher: Adventure Publications, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/11/2017
Pages: 136
Sales rank: 536,116
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

A native of Michigan, Matt Forster has lived in the Midwest, New England, and the Rocky Mountain regions of the country. This experience has contributed much to the other books he’s written so far: Best Tent Camping: Michigan, Backroads & Byways of Michigan, Best Hikes Near Detroit and Ann Arbor, Backroads & Byways of Ohio, and Explorer’s Guide Colorado. When he explores Michigan, he travels with his wife and their two children. This has created some great opportunities to learn how to best camp, hike, and discover nature with kids. The family currently lives in a restored nineteenth-century schoolhouse on a small lot that backs up to one of Oakland County’s largest parks, with a fine nature center just 520 yards (as the heron flies) from his desk.

Read an Excerpt

DeVries Nature Conservancy
Nature center open weekdays, 9–4; trails and playscape open daily dawn to dusk; Free
2635 North M-52, Owosso, MI 48867; (989) 723-3365; www.devriesnature.org

See for yourself! The conservancy has restored a prairie on land once dedicated to agriculture. Throughout the summer you will find black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, and asters.

The rundown: Located just minutes north of Owosso, the DeVries Nature Conservancy protects 136 acres along the Shiawassee River. The property was once the farm of Joseph DeVries, the local veterinarian, and his wife, Francis. The gift of land was supplemented with a healthy endowment to support its mission to “inspire curiosity and foster learning about Michigan’s natural history and rural past.” 

The preserve features maple-beech forest, restored prairie, and floodplain, and it boasts 4 miles of trails. The lion’s share of the property, however, is given over to cropland, and you may see the conservancy’s Mobile Farmers Market around town. It delivers fresh seasonal produce to the wider community.

There are a number of ways to take advantage of the resources at DeVries. Children love the Kids Nature Playscape, which has a tree for climbing in addition to a climbing wall. There’s also a slackline and a zip line for the younger kids. Another approach would be to come for a nature walk. There are trails that run down by the Shiawassee, and others follow the line between farmland and forest. Or you could visit the pollinator garden and watch the bees and butterflies go about their business. And if the gardening bug takes you, the conservancy rents out garden plots.

The Nature Center building is open on weekdays. Inside they have box turtles, a few snakes, an aquarium featuring river fish, and a hissing cockroach. When the nature center is staffed, ask if any of these critters want to come out and play. Outside they have rabbits and chickens. 

The DeVries had a deep love for horse-drawn sleigh rides. Mr. DeVries, in fact, collected historic carriages and sleighs. That collection is preserved at the DeVries Conservancy in the Sleigh and Carriage Museum. There are 25 restored vehicles in all—from buggies and surreys to sleighs and cutters. It is considered one of the best museums of its kind in the Midwest. Visitors should note that the collection is only viewable by appointment.

It’s a fact! The nearby town of Owosso was named for Chief Wasso, an Ojibwa leader who signed treaties in the early 1800s—the Treaty of Saginaw and the Treaty of Detroit—that ceded millions of acres to the US government.

Table of Contents

Introduction 5

Hours and Fees 7

Visits by Theme 8

Overview Map 12

Southern Lower Peninsula 14

1 Marshlands Museum and Nature Center at Lake Erie Metropark 17

2 Crosswinds Marsh Wetland Interpretive Preserve 19

3 Oakwoods Metropark Nature Center 21

4 Leslie Science & Nature Center/Black Pond Woods Nature Area 23

5 Kensington Metropark Nature Center 25

6 Farmington Hills Nature Center at Heritage Park 27

7 Red Oaks Nature Center 29

8 Lake St. Clair Metropark 31

9 Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center 33

10 Stony Creek Metropark Nature Center 35

11 Wint Nature Center at Independence Oaks 37

12 Environmental Discovery Center at Indian Springs Metropark 39

13 Hidden Lake Gardens 41

14 Dahlem Environmental Education Center 43

15 Eddy Discovery Center 45

16 For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum 47

17 Seven Ponds Nature Center 49

18 Pine River Nature Center 51

19 DeVries Nature Conservancy 53

20 Harris Nature Center 55

21 Fenner Nature Center 57

22 Woldumar Nature Center 59

23 Kalamazoo Nature Center 61

24 Love Creek Nature Center 63

25 Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve 65

26 Warren Woods Natural Area 67

27 Sarett Nature Center 69

28 Outdoor Discovery Center/Macatawa Greenway 71

29 Degraaf Nature Center 73

30 Nature Education Center at Hemlock Crossing Park 75

31 Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center at Hoffmaster State Park 77

32 Blandford Nature Center 79

33 Howard Christensen Nature Center 81

34 Chippewa Nature Center 83

35 Huron County Nature Center & Wilderness Arboretum 85

Northern Lower Peninsula 86

36 Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center at William Mitchell State Park 89

37 Green Point Dunes Nature Preserve 91

38 Boardman River Nature Center 93

39 Grass River Natural Area 95

40 Hartwick Pines State Park 97

41 Raven Hill Discovery Center 99

42 Sinkholes Pathway 101

43 Elizabeth Kennedy Nature Center and the Thorne Swift Nature Preserve 103

Northern Upper Peninsula 104

44 Marquette Island Preserves 107

45 Whitefish Point Bird Observatory 109

46 Tahquamenon Falls State Park 109

47 Seney National Wildlife Refuge 113

Western Upper Peninsula 114

48 MooseWood Nature Center 117

49 Echo Lake Nature Preserve 119

50 Sylvania Wilderness and Recreation Area 121

51 Kitch-iti-kipi at Palms Book State Park 123

52 Black River Scenic Byway Waterfalls 125

53 Nara Nature Park and Nara Chalet Interpretive Center 127

54 Estivant Pines Wilderness Nature Sanctuary 129

The Michigan Nature Explorer's Adventure Pack 130

The Michigan Nature Explorer's Reading List 132

About the Author 134

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