3854 Crawford Road ● Dryden, MI 48428-9776 ● (810) 796-3200


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. 


July 24, 2019: Trails are firm, dry, and mud-free (finally!) and we're working hard to keep the ever-growing foliage trimmed back, particularly in the North-80. The trail in Paul's Woods is very nice this time of year - shady and perfect on a hot summer day. Earl's Prairie is coming into its own this time of year, with the grasses and prairie flowers growing tall, and the trails circling it and cross through it are wonderful. For the adventurous, the trails in Jonathan Woods are in great shape and provide a deep-woods experience over hilly terrain.

Trail Tip: especially on humid days, deer flies can be bothersome. Wearing a hat helps keep deer flies at bay. 


  • The nature center grounds is home to many bats (we LOVE bats!) which spend their nights consuming thousands of insects. Recently up to three brown bats have been roosting on the nature center building, above the front doors. Look up for them next time you visit! 
  • Though our nesting Tree Swallows have all fledged and moved on, we still have a pair of Eastern Bluebirds nesting near the building, as well a few pairs of boisterous House Wrens. This nesting session represents a second brood for both the bluebirds and the wrens. 
  • Fireflies are peaking right now, lighting up the darkness around the nature center at night.
  • A family of Sandhill Cranes - two adults and their nearly full-grown colt - greet us each morning in front of the nature center building, where they're feeding in the grasses and wheat.
  • Recent bird sightings include Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Great Egret, Eastern Kingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Swamp Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, Green Heron, and many more. In Jonathan Woods we saw Red-headed Woodpecker, Northern Waterthrush, Scarlet Tanager; at our Richie Pond Preserve we saw our season's first Bobolink. What have you seen?
  • Many butterflies can be seen around the grounds, including Red-spotted Purple, Red Admiral, Baltimore Checkerspot, Great Spangled Fritillary, Little Wood Satyr, Northern Pearly Eye, Monarch, and others. Be sure to watch for these colorful insects.
  • Coyotes have been heard howling, yipping, and squealing during evenings in July.
  • Our butterfly gardeners have been working hard, and our butterfly garden is really blooming. Check it out!
  • Cottontails abound! This appears to be shaping up as a great year for local rabbits, as several can be seen around the nature center - particularly in the grassy areas near the driveway. Please drive slowly and be careful when entering and leaving the nature center. 
  • The Miller Pond boardwalk is wonderful, with skunk cabbage enveloping the wooded marsh and several species of fern growing along the boardwalk. Paul's woods is a deep, dark green this time of year.
  • Mammals seen recently: whitetail deer, fox squirrel, gray squirrel, red squirrel, eastern chipmunk, woodchuck, eastern cottontail, raccoon, muskrat, mink, and opossum.

202 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


Saturday, July 6, 2019    10:00AM-4:00PM

Cabbage White 2
American Copper 1
Bronze Copper 1
Summer Azure 3
Great Spangled Fritillary 12
Pearl Crescent 1
Baltimore Checkerspot 13
Question Mark 1
Eastern Comma 2
Red Admiral 17
Viceroy 1
Northern Pearly-Eye 11
Eyed Brown 1
Appalachian Brown 18
Little Wood-Satyr 40
Common Wood-Nymph 2
Monarch 3
Silver-spotted Skipper 5
Least Skipper 2
Delaware Skipper 1
Hobomok Skipper 1

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.


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 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

Miller Pond Boardwalk autumn

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, 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 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

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
songbird nest box

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.