Michigan Trail Tuesday: Wege Foundation Natural Area, Lowell’s “Outdoor Classroom”
Michigan Trail Tuesdays is our attempt to showcase a different trail or trail segment each week. The Mitten State is home to thousands of miles of trails, including the new Iron Belle Trail that runs from Detroit in the southeast to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula and more miles of the North Country Trail than any other state.
The Michigan Land Conservancy helps preserve more than 12,000 acres at 155 sites in eight counties. One of the nature preserves maintained by this wonderful nonprofit organization is the Wege Foundation Natural Area in Lowell, which is home to several miles of trails and is the perfect “outdoor classroom.” Located across the street from Lowell High School, the Wege Foundation Natural Area is also home to the Wittenbach/Wege Agriscience & Environmental Education Center. Today we will take a look at the trails and share some photos from our visit – this is one of the best nature hikes in Kent County for families with younger children!
The main trail begins behind the Wittenbach/Wege Center and heads into the woods. There is a small pond behind the building and if you stay still long enough you’ll probably see more than a few different species of birds. The trail map is posted, and shows four options: the Conifer Crossing Trail (.7 miles), the Corncob Corner Trail (.96 miles), the Chicakdee Chatter Loop (1.4 miles), and the Trillium Ridge Trail (.64 miles). A handful of connector trails link the four main trail segments together, and we found that all major intersections were well-marked.
We started our visit by heading out on the Trillium Ridge Trail, then explored some of the Chicakdee Chatter Loop. We followed that trail as it winds its way through a mixed oak forest before turning back as it passes an old cabin.
After the cabin we connected to the Conifer Crossing Trail, where we found many interpretive signs highlighting the different kinds of plants and wildlife to be on the lookout for. We finished our day of hiking by making our way through the old field on the Corncob Corner loop (also open for equestrian use), before returning to the parking area.
We saw many different kinds of birds on our visit, as well as a few turtles. The different habitats here make it a perfect spot for various birds, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. All trails were well-maintained and mostly level. This is a great “outdoor classroom” for kids of all ages, and a great asset for the people of Kent County! Below we have added a few more pictures from our visit.
The Wege Foundation Natural Area and the Wittenbach/Wege Center are located at 11715 Vergennes St. SE in Lowell.