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

Fremont’s own Award-winning prairie

Fremont’s own Award-winning prairie

Fall is my favorite season, hands-down. Between the fall colors, harvest festivals and some fresh-pressed apple cider, I’m one happy girl. A fall favorite event of ours is Fremont’s Hay Art and this year it was extra special.   While out exploring the city’s Hay...

White Cloud- Trail Town Hidden Gems

White Cloud- Trail Town Hidden Gems

If you venture a few yards off M-37, you will find some amazing hidden gems within White Cloud city limits that most travelers don’t know exist. Hidden Gem #1 If you're heading North into town, Rotary Park is the first stop you’ll make. Taking a right on James Street...

Let’s Talk About Bogs!

Let’s Talk About Bogs!

On todays episode of our outdoor family adventures, we ventured out to Camp Newaygo's Wetland Trail! Nestled in Camp Newaygo, the Wetland Trail is the only one of its kind in Michigan. What makes this so unique is that the one-mile round-trip trail crosses through the...

Family Adventures at Coolbough Natural Area

Family Adventures at Coolbough Natural Area

My family and I are avid outdoors people. Our ideal day would be to do something outdoorsy from sunup to sundown. From hunting and fishing, to hiking trails and exploring new places, it’s something we all can connect and bond over, while giving our family the outdoor...

Labor Day Weekend Logging Festival

Labor Day Weekend Logging Festival

The Logging Festival in Newaygo has been a part of Labor Day weekend for more than 60 years.  I have been trying to research the changes throughout the years and have learned that while some of the weekend’s events and activities have changed, the common theme of...

Exploring Challenge: An 8 year old’s adventure

Exploring Challenge: An 8 year old’s adventure

Having a mom that is involved in a million things has its perks every now and then. As Newaygo County Tourism Council President, I had the opportunity to share the new Newaygo County Exploring Challenge with my kids as soon as it was approved. Over the past few...

Star Parties Return!

Great news from the S.F. Wessling Observatory!  Read on to learn more, or visit their new website: http://www.newaygocd.org/kropscott-and-observatory.html We are pleased to announce that the S. F. Wessling Observatory will conduct its first 2021 Star Party on Saturday...

Hesperia Welcomes ORVs!

It is no secret that Newaygo County is a great place to ride your ATV or ORV, with all Newaygo County maintained roads open to ORV/ATV traffic, but some restrictions apply when you enter City/Village limits. The Village of Hesperia, located on the far western edge of...

Kids Free Fishing!

Kids Free Fishing!

Beginning in 1983, Russell Gilbert Kids Free Fishing is a day where families can gather for fun times and even have a chance to win big money!  On the first Kids Free Fishing day, 8 anglers joined in the fun & over the years, they have seen over 400 anglers...

#girlsgonewilderness

#girlsgonewilderness

Good hiking gear that really works can make the difference between having the time of your life or living through a suffering day on the trail. Along with the gear, who you bring as your company makes all the difference! We set out with five everyday gals from Newaygo...

Farmer’s Market: Friday Fun!

Farmer’s Market: Friday Fun!

The Newaygo Famers Market  is focused on working with local farmers  to ensure the residents and visitors to Newaygo County have the opportunity to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables.   At the Newaygo Farmers Market you will find a plethora of local ...

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.