Michigan Wildlife Watching: Nara Nature Trail Boardwalk, Houghton (PHOTO GALLERY)
Michigan is home to many great places to watch wildlife in its natural habitat, including the Nara Nature Trail Boardwalk in Houghton. The trail boardwalk is a part of the 100-acre Nara Nature Park, a local treasure prized for its network of trails for hiking, biking, and cross country skiing. We visited the boardwalk trail in the early morning on our June vacation to the Upper Peninsula, and were able to observe many different birds and mammals during our visit.
The Nara Nature Trail Boardwalk is 4,500 feet long and follows both banks of the Pilgrim River. Despite the boardwalk starting just a few hundred feet from U.S. 41, it is fairly quiet and peaceful here. Add in abundant plant life and lots of water and it’s no surprise that local wildlife love this area. Located just a few blocks from the campus of Michigan Technological University and connected to a network of local trails, this is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.
Bob and Ruth Nara are the philanthropists that helped make this wonderful parcel of land available for all to enjoy. A sign by the north boardwalk entrance tells a bit more about Bob Nara and how he donated this property to honor the memories of his grandfather, father, and brother.
A sign near the south boardwalk entrance lets visitors know that the current boardwalk was constructed in the fall of 2020. A “once in 1,000 years” rainstorm hit the area in June of 2018 and flooding wiped out many of the original boardwalk sections. Having never seen the original, all I can say is that the new boardwalk is amazing. It is wide enough for two-way traffic, has many benches and observation platforms, and seamlessly blends into the landscape in a way that should help it survive for many years to come.
We were lucky enough to see a beaver swimming in the river during our visit. We also saw many birds, including bald eagles, warblers, wrens, red-winged blackbirds, chickadees, flickers, sparrows, swallows, and more. Coming early in the morning when visitor traffic was low helped give us a chance to watch these birds in action.
We walked the south boardwalk first, then headed back up and over the river to explore the northern boardwalk. The north boardwalk seemed to have a lot more bird activity, and when we headed back to the parking lot we saw a pair of whitetail deer.
Check out more photos from our visit in the gallery below, and consider adding this beautiful preserve to your travel itinerary the next time you are in Houghton!