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

The Wetland Trail – A Unique Ecosystem

 I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog that I work for TrueNorth Community Services, the parent company of Camp Newaygo. Unless people attend one of Camp Newaygo’s public events such as their “Dinners on the Ridge” series this summer (July 20 or August 10) most...

Exploring Newaygo’s Past

Growing up, in an area, we often become familiar with local history. It is taught in schools, on field trips, family members talk about "back when...", and traditions are born in recognition of the history. When you're raised in a community, you often become tired of...

Agritourism

I recently heard the term Agricultural Tourism or Agritourism for short, and was immediately intrigued by the idea, that individuals go out of their way to visit areas because of the agriculture. After a little bit of research, I realized that the idea of visiting an...

A Branstrom Park Day

I had just bought myself a new pair of waterproof low hiking boots and I needed to try them out. If you live or work in Fremont, or if you’re vacationing in the area and stop there for supplies or to grab something to eat, do yourself a favor and do not overlook...

Our First Hike

Kelley and I had always dreamed on having a home near water when we retired.  A place where we could sink down solid roots and flourish after many years of working and building a life for our family in the Detroit and the Grand Rapids areas.  So, on weekends we’d go...

Newaygo: A Truly Magical Place

This truly is a magical place.Nestled on the banks of the Muskegon River in Newaygo County rests the nostalgic town ofNewaygo, MI. The historic district of this town still features all of the old world charm and design;restored vintage buildings, bustling...

Early Spring Hike Reveals Surprises

Spring fever had struck. I needed to hike and thought Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary would be a good place to explore and get my walking legs broken in. I didn’t think I would see many wildflowers, because even the daffodils weren’t up yet, but it was sunny and...

Freedom Fest

          When I grew up, it was a seemingly simple affair. We were a small family, myself an only child, and our extended family didn’t visit often. During the cold-weather holidays, we would always venture their way, with some dish wrapped tightly in towels and hot...

Guiso What?

Guiso What?  The joy of cooking – over a fire! Campers, holiday-makers, hostesses and hosts: what is your favorite table to sit around? Is it one that you decorate during the holidays with special napkins, plates, crystal or glass? Is it the one you congregate on...

Power Paddle

            On Saturday morning at 10am, under sheets of rain, they sat waiting for the gunshot. The solo canoeists (known as C1), steadied their boats in the chop. The shot rang out, barely audible over the wind and rain meeting the lake; the racers plunged their...

A Tale of Shaky Legs

            “I don’t like it,” Ron says, smiling. I’m holding the board as close to the dock as I can, trying to steady it while he steps on. “I don’t like it,” he says again as I push it gently away, and hand him the paddle. (He’s still smiling, mind you). His legs...

About The Author

Wendy Sinicki

Wendy Sinicki has been checking out the trails, paths and scenic dirt roads in Newaygo County since she was looking for a way to tire out her kids when they were toddlers. They are now out of college and she has more time to explore, but instead of running, she just walks. When not outside, she enjoys writing and reading.