TRAIL REPORT

Seven Ponds Nature Center encompasses nearly 500 acres of woodlands, wetlands, lakes, ponds, prairies, and fields. There are seven miles of trails for you to explore and enjoy. Please check-in at the nature center prior to venturing out on the trails. Our trails are open to guests Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and open to Seven Ponds members dawn to dusk, every day of the year.

Click here for a Seven Ponds trail map

CURRENT TRAIL CONDITIONS

September 17, 2020: All trails are open and in good condition. Recent rains may have caused a few trails to be muddy, so appropriate footwear is recommended. Late summer is a great time to enjoy the tall grasses and prairie wildlfowers in Earl's Prairie, out nine-acre tallgrass prairie. The ferns and sedges along the Miller Pond Boardwalk are also wonderful this time of year, and the return trip through Paul's Woods provides a high-canopy shade that ensures a cool return walk. Due to its narrowness, the Miller Pond Boardwalk in Paul's Woods is open for one-way traffic only. Signs are in place - please enter the boardwalk in a clockwise direction.

REMINDER for our first-time visitors - dogs, bikes, and fishing are NOT permitted on the trails at Seven Ponds. As a nature preserve, wildlife is our first concern. Thank you!

NOTE: Our indoor restooms are available during regular operating hours. Per current Michigan law and to help keep our staff and fellow visitors safe, a mask or face covering is required to enter the building. Our drinking fountain/water refill station is currently unavailable to the public. Be sure to bring your own drinking water. 

RECENT OBSERVATIONS

  • Spring is often considered the best time for wildflowers, but many wildflowers bloom in late summer/early fall. What flowers have you seen lately at Seven Ponds? Check out the Closed Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) and Smooth Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve), both pictured to the right, photographed today at the nature center. (9/21/20)
  • There was a nice movement of migrating raptors high in the sky over the nature center building today. Mid-September is prime time for Broad-winged Hawk migration as they move through Michigan on their journey to South America, and we saw more than a dozen cruise over the grounds. We also noted a Northern Harrier, a Cooper's Hawk, and numerous Turkey Vultures. (9/16/20)
  • As you drive in, you may notice many "clippings" from the oak trees along the nature center's driveway. Gray Squirrels are in the tree tops pruning the oaks, likely for the bounty of nutritious acorns as well as for use in building this winter's leaf nests. (9/9/20)
  • American Robins are flocking up and have been observed in large numbers on the nature center's lawns. (9/7/20)
  • Many of our whitetail deer still have spotted fawns in tow. Some have just one fawn, many have twins, and at least one doe has triplets. There is also an apparent orphaned fawn, whose mother was likely hit by a car (we had a decaying deer on the grounds during August). The orphan seems to be doing well, and is regularly seen near the driveway entrance area. (9/3/20)
  • Numerous American Goldfinches were seen feeding on the seeds of the rosin weed and other prairie plants in Earl's Prairie. (9/2/20)
  • A mink was observed trotting along the Miller Pond boardwalk - always a fun critter to encounter while out on the trails. (9/1/20)
  • Although the nature center closes at 5:00, Seven Ponds members are welcome to enjoy the trails until dusk. Currently many bats are feasting in the skies over the parking lot, prairie, and North-80, and a chorus of crickets and other insects serenade our evening visitors. (8/26/20)
  • The Butterfly Garden is in great shape this year, thanks to our wonderful volunteer crew. Many butterflies and moths are taking advantage of the offerings in the garden. (8/21/20)
Closed Bottle Gentian
Smooth Blue Aster

203 bird species have been observed at Seven Ponds! For recent sightings posted to eBird, click the eBird logo to the right.

 

Our satellite properties are visited less frequently, but offer different habitat for birds. Check out the eBird reports for these two areas below:

Jonathan Woods Nature Preserve eBird reports

Richie Pond Nature Preserve eBird reports

SPNC BUTTERFLY COUNT - July 4, 2020
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail   1
Cabbage White 37
Clouded Sulphur 11
Banded Hairstreak 1
Great Spangled Fritillary 14
Baltimore Checkerspot 12
Eastern Comma 3
Mourning Cloak 2
Red Admiral 1
Red-spotted Purple 2
Northern Pearly-Eye 3
Eyed Brown 7
Appalachian Brown 2
Little Wood-Satyr 65
Common Wood-Nymph 67
Monarch 5
Silver-spotted Skipper 7
Least Skipper 2
Northern Broken-Dash 3
Delaware Skipper 1
Mulberry Wing 2
total individuals 248
total species 21
Baltimore Checkerspot
Baltimore Checkerspot

Paul's Woods

Paul's Woods is a mature beech-maple forest bordering a swamp. The trail is a loop of approximately 1/2 mile, and includes a wide, flat trail through the forest and a winding boardwalk through the swamp, which borders Miller Pond. Get a close-up look at the beaver lodge on Treetop Pond, and check out Big Pond from the observation tower.

North-80

The North-80 is located on the north side of Crawford Road, and has an extensive trail network that winds through old fields, a wildlife orchard, young forests, and an old fence row. Two bridges cross the drain, and an observation tower gives you a panoramic view of the field and Waterfowl Pond. During spring and summer look for Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows using the nest boxes in the field.

Earl's Prairie

Earl's Prairie is a nine-acre reconstructed tall grass prairie. Bordered by pine trees most of the way around, the prairie truly comes into its own during late summer, when the grasses are tall and prairie flowers are blooming. Enjoy the wide-open sky and prairie view from the observation tower. 

Woodland Wildflower Area

Located near the nature center and containing many ephemerals, the Woodland Wildflower Area is a wonderful place to visit in the spring. A wide variety of wildflowers and ferns awaits you in this enclosed area. 

Jonathan Woods

Jonathan Woods is located a few miles southwest of the nature center on Jonathan Road. This 145 acre preserve is mature hardwood forest that includes a large, leatherleaf bog and a cold water brook with a hemlock stand. Greatly affected by past glacial activity, the terrain here is rolling and hilly. 

Richie Pond Preserve

Richie Pond Preserve is located on Hosner Road and includes a grassland and small ponds, as well as a marsh bordering Richie Pond.

Along the Trail

boardwalk

Miller Pond Boardwalk

The 1/4 mile boardwalk winds along the shore of Treetop and Miller ponds, and provides access to an interesting swamp forest habitat, with cattails, skunk cabbage, ferns, and views of both ponds. A small platform at the north end overlooks an active beaver lodge.

Observation Platforms

Three raised observation platforms are located throughout the nature center grounds. In Paul's Woods, a platform overlooks Big Pond, the largest of the Seven Ponds. In the North-80, a platform overlooks Waterfowl Pond and the neighboring grassland. In Earl's Prairie, a platform provides a grand view of the entire nine-acre tallgrass prairie.

Observation platform on the tallgrass prairie
A-Frame

A-Frame Bridge

This unique bridge spans the channel between Treetop Pond and Little Pond, and leads to Paul's Woods. It's a wonderful place to view wildlife, and is always worthy of a pause to enjoy the view. First constructed in 1968, it was rebuilt in the 1990s and again in 2011.

Waterfowl Pond

Located in the North-80, Waterfowl Pond is a small, shallow pond with plenty of cattail marsh, and is an excellent place to observe ducks, herons, rails, muskrats, and other wildlife. An observation platform provides an overhead view. Water from this pond drains into the marsh of Long Pond.

Waterfowl Pond at Sunset
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Treetop Pond Teaching Platform

This dock is located at the base of the hill behind the nature center building, and provides an excellent view of Treetop Pond and the A-Frame Bridge. Check out the large beaver lodge visible across the pond, and look for signs of their activity in the woods around the dock.

Demonstration Gardens

These gardens are located in front of the Interpretive Building, and display numerous native trees and shrubs, demonstrating that you can landscape your own yard using native plant species.

Demo gardens
butterfly garden sign
Tree Swallow

Butterfly Garden

Maintained by our Butterfly Gardeners volunteer group, the Butterfly Garden is located near the driveway loop. Its plants provide nectar for butterflies and other insects, and serve as hosts for butterfly larvae.

Songbird Nesting Boxes

The nature center maintains over 100 songbird nest boxes, scattered throughout the North-80, Earl's Prairie, the Richie Pond Preserve, and around the nature center building. These boxes are utilized by Tree Swallows, Eastern Bluebirds, House Wrens, and Black-capped Chickadees. Volunteers monitor these nest boxes, collecting data which is submitted to NestWatch, a citizen science program conducted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Herb Garden

Maintained by our Friends of Herb volunteer group, the Herb Garden is located near the driveway loop. This garden displays plants used by our fore-bearers for food, medicine, potpourri, and dyes.

Bird Feeding Stations

Two bird feeding stations located just outside the interpretive building attract a wide range of birds throughout the year. Depending on the season, you may see a variety of woodpeckers, finches, sparrows, blackbirds, and many other birds visiting the feeders. Visiting mammals may include gray, fox, and red squirrels, eastern chipmunks, and woodchucks.

IMG_4359
feeders