Coolbough Natural Area Offers Birds, Bugs and Boot Prints

Coolbough Natural Area Offers Birds, Bugs and Boot Prints

The Coolbough Natural Area is one of my favorite places to hike. Why? There are many reasons such as easy parking, looping paths, lots of wildlife and points of interest, a porta-john, and many more, but I will save my favorite for last.

Coolbough has many options for hiking loops in its 400 acres: The Wetland loop including the Old Rail trail (1.87 miles), Cathedral Pines Loop (.67 miles), Prairie Loop (1.29 miles) and Valley of the Ants (.47 miles) all have points of interest, unique plants and different ecosystems. These trails can be mixed and matched depending on your interests and stamina. The trails also connect with the North Country Trail for those who want a longer hike than a couple of hours. Maps are posted, especially at intersections, to keep you on the correct trail and numbered markers to tell you about interesting details.

Coolbough Trail Sign

Some of the Coolbough trails are wider and shared with horseback riders. These are easier to hike, but you must watch out for fresh piles from the horses. The Valley of the Ants hike has giant ant hills with mesmerizing occupants and trees decimated by woodpeckers seeking tasty crawly things.

While I am not knowledgeable about birds, I’ve seen many people and their binoculars identifying several types of winged creatures from blue herons to yellow-belly sapsuckers. The trails also have many benches to enjoy nature and observe wildlife.

The endangered Karner Blue Butterfly also makes Coolbough its home in the rare pine and oak savannah prairies. Look for the butterfly that is about the size of a nickel on the purple cone-shaped lupine flowers.

Have you figured out my favorite part yet? It’s the trail markers. I love following the red boot soles that mark the paths. Even if you don’t have a unique sense of humor about trail markers, Coolbough Natural Area, on Bayberry and 58thStreet, just off Croton Drive about 3.5 miles from M-37, is a great place to hike.

For a copy of the field guide with directions, trail maps and points of interest, check here: http://www.brookstownship.org/BTWebsiteTemplatel/1blank/coolbough-field-guide—final.pdf

By Wendy Sinicki

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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.