Ensley Township Nature Preserve

Ensley Township Nature Preserve

By Wendy Sinicki

Tucked in the southeastern corner of Newaygo County is a wonderful place to spend time hiking, especially with the family. The Ensley Township Nature Preserve, 6985 136th Street, Sand Lake, just west of Cypress Avenue, is designed with children in mind.

When you arrive, there is a nice parking lot that is anchored by a two-story lookout tower that will whet any kid’s energy meter. A porta-john bathroom, swing set and a pavilion for a picnic round out this area for a walk in the woods. The outside looping ring, the Deer Trail, is nine-tenths of a mile around the perimeter of the preserve. It is color-coded (blue painted on trees) along the trail and also marked by tree slices with a deer outlined burned into the wood. Along the route is a trellis tunnel with climbing vines, bogs and many bird and bat houses attached to trees.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Sinicki

At the back or north property line, a nice deck gives you a view of a small lake. Then, depending on the energy level and stamina, you can continue the loop or head back to the parking lot by taking the Fox Trail-coded (orange) that is nearly a half mile back to the parking lot and has a bridge over some interesting wet lands.

If you continue the loop, about three-quarters of the way, is another trail option called the Squirrel (yellow) for a short tenth of a mile and connects to the Fox Trail. Another option is the Rabbit Trail, which is a little longer and connects to the deer loop near the parking area.

Sprinkled along the trails are bogs, small and swampy areas with frogs, turtles and chipmunks. Even with so many trail options, it is always an easy hike back to the parking lot if a bathroom break is needed or today isn’t a good one for hiking. The other bonus of the nature preserve is the many benches it provides to sit peacefully and observe the birds, squirrels and other animals, perform their daily activities. This is a great family outing tucked in a corner but well worth the trip. For a trail map or more information: http://www.ensleytownship.org/nature_preserve.htm

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