Sarett Nature Center: Family Friendly Trails and Environmental Education in Benton Harbor

Sarett Nature Center: Family Friendly Trails and Environmental Education in Benton Harbor

Sarett Nature Center Observation Tower View

In April we were able to visit the Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids and explore trails and see animals up close. We also made a trip to the southwest to check out the Sarett Nature Center in Benton Harbor, where we found more trails, educational exhibits, animals, and birdwatching opportunities. The focus of this center is on environmental education and we loved getting to see some wildlife ambassadors up close before heading out to check out the trails. Today we’ll take a look at our visit to this beautiful place that has been welcoming visitors for 60 years and share some photos, then tell you everything you need to know before you visit.

Sarett Nature Center Benton Harbor Michigan

The Sarett Nature Center is located on Benton Center Rd., just west of I-196 and just north of I-94 (northeast of Benton Harbor). We started our visit in the visitor center, where helpful staff is on hand to answer any questions, provide trail maps, and collect the small fee for visiting the center and trails ($3 per adult). After snagging a map we started walking through the exhibits to see the animals.

Sarett nature Center Eastern Screech Owl

Sarett Nature Center Snake Benton Harbor MI

Sarett Nature Center Exhibits Benton Harbor MI

There are two rooms with very large windows for watching birds, squirrels, and chipmunks as they visit the feeders outside. More than 350 different species of birds have been observed here over the past few years. There are turtles, snakes, owls, and more here. Our favorites were Rufus the Eastern Screech Owl and the California King Snake and Corn Snake.

Sarett Nature Center Marsh Trail Marigolds

We started our trail walk behind the visitor center, following the River Trail since it looked to be the most promising for birds and wildlife. This trail is .66 miles and has many boardwalk sections due to the marshy terrain.

Sarett Nature Center Massassauga Warning Michigan

One of the signs that caught our attention immediately warned us to stay on the trail as the area is home to the Massasauga Rattlesnake. We thought about how cool it would be to finally see one of Michigan’s most elusive reptiles (we were not lucky enough on this visit) and proceeded with a bit more caution than normal.

Sarett Nature Center Boardwalk Trail Berrien County MI

This trail is easy to follow and offered some great views. There are a few spots where you can take a spur trail to viewing areas that overlook ponds or open areas. We were a bit early for full spring bloom as far as flowers and plants were concerned, and we had a pretty disappointing day as far as birds and wildlife were concerned.

Sarett Nature Center Trail End River

Sarett Nature Center Canada Goose Benton Harbor MI

The River Trail ends at a nice overlook of the Paw Paw River, where we saw a few ducks and geese. From here we followed our route back then took the Wetland Walk back towards the visitor center. We stayed on this trail until we got to a point where we could join up with the Ridge Loop so I could go check out the Tree Top Walkway.

The Tree Top Walkway proved to be one of the highlights of our visit. Dedicated in 2009, this elevated wooden walkway provides some amazing views of the property from high above as you can see in this video. There are also some benches up here for a quick break after hiking.

Sarett Nature Center Woodland Overlook Approach

Sarett Nature Center Playground Benton Harbor

There is a playground area and the High Line Trail where you can test your balance on obstacles near the visitor center. We loved the trail system here and would happily visit again with hopes of seeing more wildlife.