Camp Newaygo & The Wetland Trail

Camp Newaygo & The Wetland Trail

Nature-seekers who discover the “Wetland Trail” at Camp Newaygo are treated to an ecologically-unique outdoor experience. The Wetland Trail is no ordinary swampland or run-of-the-mill hiker pathway! In fact, the one mile (roundtrip) boardwalk trail, is one of the only such trails in Michigan that crosses through the heart of a truly sphagnum bog.

The sphagnum bog at Camp Newaygo is part of a larger wetlands eco-zone. It is a type of bog that contains soft sphagnum moss and other acid-tolerant plants. In some spots, the bog is over 40 feet deep and sphagnum moss “floats” atop a hidden, underlying pond. The surrounding wetlands function as “sediment traps,” filtering out silt and other impurities before water re-enters nearby lakes and streams.

Few places in Michigan offer visitors opportunities to observe this type of habitat up-close and personal, while strolling high and dry over and through the bog and wetlands on a boardwalk.  An afternoon walk may also afford glimpses of the wildlife that inhabit the area, including great blue herons, kingfishers, muskrats, raccoons, barred owls, snapping turtles, deer, porcupines, and perhaps a bald eagle flying overhead. Children may first cringe at the sight of pitcher plants and other insect-devouring flora or spot a water snake swimming in one of two acetic ponds.

The current Wetland Trail is approximately .5-mile-long and dead ends at a peninsula of hard wood forest. The trail consists of a suspended boardwalk through the bog with two deck areas. The first deck overlooking Camp Newaygo’s Hidden Lake, has a floating dock that goes out into the lake for a better view of the high acidic levels of the water that prevent plants from encroaching on the lake. This deck is in the sphagnum bog area of the wetland. The second deck is a large classroom area. It is in the cranberry marsh area of the bog and provides great opportunities to teach about the different plants and animals that coexist in a bog habitat.

The proposed addition to the Wetland Trail would complete the trail loop, creating a total trail length of one mile. The extension would take hikers back into the bog from the hardwood peninsula and lead them by boardwalk to a classroom deck overlooking the second hidden lake, a quaking lake.

After viewing the features of this quaking lake, hikers would then continue by boardwalk to a glacial trail. This offers hikers a contrast in habitats and also offers another dimension to hiking with its gradual incline. A switchback trail will lead the hikers up the hill, through beautiful oak, beech and maple trees, and to a lookout deck. The placement of the lookout offers visitors a view from above the entire bog. A quiet private road completes the loop and leads hikers back to the trailhead. Bus parking would be available near the trail with parking improvements.

Come any time for a self-guided tour. An interpretive guided tour of the Wetland Trail can be arranged for your group or included as part of programming opportunities offered at the camp, including: conferences, business events, weddings and workshops. Camp Newaygo and the Wetland Trail are located in the Pickerel and Emerald Lakes area about four miles north of the City of Newaygo. To reach the Trailhead for the Wetland Trail, go past the entrance to Camp Newaygo located at 5333 Centerline Road and then continue around the curves another half mile to a dirt road that branches to the left. A sign will direct you to the trailhead.

The Wetland Trail is open to the public from dawn until dusk throughout the year. There is no admission charge. For more information or facility rental options, call 231-652-1184, or email campbiz@campnewaygo.org.

 

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