Michigan Wildlife Watching: Arcadia Marsh in Manistee County
Michigan is home to many great places to watch wildlife in its natural habitat, including the Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve in Manistee County. We recently had a chance to visit this Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy site that is home to a universally accessible boardwalk and were blown away by the scenery and the opportunities to see waterfowl.
The GTRLC provides some background on the marsh and why it is important on their website: Arcadia Marsh “offers visitors access to a Great Lakes Coastal Marsh, a rare and declining natural community found only in Great Lakes coastal areas. It is estimated that over 80% of all original Great Lakes marshes have been destroyed. These marshes are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world, and Arcadia Marsh is one of only 15 or so remaining coastal marshes along Lake Michigan’s Lower Peninsula shoreline. Intensive habitat restoration work completed here by GTRLC and a dedicated team of partners has helped improve this ecosystem tremendously after many decades of decline due to invasive species and man-made impacts.”
The boardwalk is impressive and provides great views and access as it cuts through the marsh. Several viewing platforms offer informational signage that showcase the bird, plant, and animal species you are likely to see while visiting.
Some of the bird species you can view in this preserve are blue-winged teal, great blue heron, green heron, killdeer, merlin, mute swan, sandhill crane, trumpeter swan, wood duck, and swamp sparrow. Windy conditions when we visited likely kept us from seeing too many of these, but we easily identified 10 different bird species in our visit.
The placement of the boardwalk also allows visitors to view a variety of marsh plants. There are more than 200 different plant species that have been identified at the preserve, including blue vervain, common bladderwort, lake sedge, nodding smartweed, spotted touch-me-not, and yellow pond lily.
The trail at Arcadia Marsh Preserve is 3/4 mile long. From April to July the center portion of the trail is closed to protect nesting birds. The preserve can be accessed from M-22 in Arcadia or from St. Pierre Rd. on its east side. Bring your camera or binoculars and check out this incredible trail! Another note: due to the sensitive wildlife habitat, dogs are NOT allowed on this trail. We hope you enjoy these pictures from our visit and consider visiting this preserve the next time you head to Manistee County (and be sure to check out other GTRLC sites like Arcadia Dunes too)!