Michigan Trail Tuesday: Bow in the Clouds Preserve, Kalamazoo

Michigan Trail Tuesday: Bow in the Clouds Preserve, Kalamazoo

Bow in the Clouds Preserve Kalamazoo Sign

Michigan Trail Tuesday 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.

Tucked away in a quiet wooded area behind the Borgess Health and Fitness Center in Kalamazoo is the 60-acre Bow in the Clouds Preserve, a Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy property with a mile of scenic hiking trails. Like other SWMLC preserves we have been able to visit, Bow in the Clouds had some well-marked trails, plentiful wildlife watching opportunities, and a bit of peace and quiet just miles away from the city.

Bow in the Clouds Preserve Kalamazoo Wetland Trail

The Bow in the Clouds Preserve is located on land that was once part of the Sisters of St. Joseph and Nazareth College property. The SWMLC website has some more background about the preserve and Sister Virginia Jones, who was the main caretaker of the property for four decades: “Sr. Ginny arrived at Nazareth in 1968 as an environmental science teacher.  At that time, the Sisters of St. Joseph broadened their ministry to include new social concerns, such as the environment.  Sr. Ginny helped host Kalamazoo’s first Earth Day celebration, which was held at the campus in 1970.  As a teacher, Sr. Ginny used the preserve as a hands-on classroom, where students built trails and planted trees.  Bow in the Clouds Natural Area was dedicated in 1973. As an aging religious order, the Congregation of St. Joseph lacked the people power to maintain a 60-acre nature preserve.  So after several years of negotiations, Bow in the Clouds was transferred to SWMLC in July of 2007 as Bow in the Clouds Preserve.” A few remnants of the old days remain here as you walk along the trail, as old building foundations, pipes, and more.

Bow in the Clouds Preserve White Trail Kalamazoo

We started out with the white trail, which almost immediately dips down into the preserve and follows a narrow path around the outer perimeter of the property. The wetlands were on our right and spring flowers were starting to poke through. The trail then heads into the woods for a bit before meeting up with the boardwalk trail.

Bow in the Clouds Preserve Waterfowl Pond Kalamazoo

The boardwalk trail looked promising, but we chose to first go check out the blue trail and the Swan Pond. The views here were pretty awesome, even without any waterfowl present. We backtracked to the boardwalk and followed it through the marsh. We saw a few frogs, ducks, and even a sandhill crane off in the distance. The boardwalk trail continues on to the other side of the marsh, where you can choose the blue trail that leads back to the parking area or make an addition loop on the blue trail/green trail before heading back.

Bow in the Clouds Preserve Observation Platform Kalamazoo

After the trail climbs back up above the marsh, a wider gravel path leads to an observation platform with stunning views of the preserve below. We think this must look amazing in the fall and will be back to check it out.

Bow in the Clouds Preserve Barn Trail

Bow in the Clouds is a great preserve with some great trails that offer chances for birdwatching and more. The parking lot can hold 10-15 cars and there is a good chance you won’t run in to many other people when you visit. You’ll find the Bow in the Clouds Preserve at 3401 Nazareth Rd. in Kalamazoo, about a half mile north of the Gull Rd./Nazareth Rd. intersection.