TRAIL REPORT

Seven Ponds Nature Center encompasses nearly 500 acres of woodlands, wetlands, lakes, ponds, prairies, and fields. There are over six 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

July 22, 2021: Despite all the recent rain, our trails are in great condition - come out and explore! Summer foliage is thick and the woods and waters are filled with the sounds of birds, frogs, and insects. 

NOTICE: Our Treetop Pond dock is under reconstruction and is currently not accessible. Please be patient with us as we work hard to construct a new, sturdy, wonderful dock for our visitors to enjoy. 

RECENT OBSERVATIONS

  • During a powerful thunderstorm a black locust tree near our back parking lot was struck by lightning. Check out the damage! It will be interesting to watch how this tree responds over the next several years. (7/20/21)
  • Look closely on vegetation for the caterpillars of various butterflies, including Monarchs (on milkweed) and Spicebush Swallowtails (on spicebush). 7/3/21
  • Listen for the daytime trill of Gray Treefrogs as they sing in the trees around the nature center. (7/2/21)
  • Our volunteer butterfly gardeners have been hard at work since early spring prepping the butterfly garden, and it's in great shape. Stop by and see if any pollinators are visiting the garden area. (6/24/21)
  • Many baby birds have fledged and are following their parents around, begging for food and learning how to use their wings. Watch our bird feeders to see these fun interactions. (6/23/21)
  • Yesterday there were several small painted turtles down near the Treetop Pond dock, and today we found a large female Blanding's Turtle up near the parking lot area. We gently moved her off the parking lot and into the nearby vegetation. (6/8/21)
  • Besides bats, many mammals have been observed at the nature center over the past couple weeks, including whitetail deer, cottontail rabbit, muskrat, gray squirrel (gray and black forms), red squirrel, chipmunk, oppossum, woodchuck, raccoon, and coyote (heard only). Any beaver sightings? (6/7/21)
  • Bats abound! Numerous bats can be seen in the area of the parking lot at dusk. Members are permitted on the grounds from dawn to dusk, so be sure to stick around for the evening show as these furry flyers feast on insects as the sun sets. (6/6/21)
  • A trio of Chimney Swifts have been seen in the vicinity of the nature center for a few weeks now. Hopefully they have settled in to our swift tower located on the north side of the building. These amazing aerial insectivores typically utilize chimneys for nesting and roosting, but there are far fewer chimneys available than there were decades ago, and many chimneys are now capped and therefore inaccessible to the swifts. (6/1/21)
  • We had the privilege of enjoying one of Michigan's spectacular birds at the nature center: a Red-headed Woodpecker! These birds are rarely seen at Seven Ponds, and we certainly hope this one sticks around. (5/27/21)
Black Locust tree with lightning scar
Black Locust tree with lightning scar
Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar on spicebush near the building
Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar on spicebush near the building
Eastern Cottontail
Eastern Cottontail
Female Blanding's Turtle found near the nature center parking lot
Female Blanding's Turtle found near the nature center parking lot
Monarch caterpillar on milkweed in the North-80
Monarch caterpillar on milkweed in the North-80
Whitetail Deer fawn
Whitetail Deer fawn
Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)
Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)
Red-headed Woodpecker at Seven Ponds
Red-headed Woodpecker at Seven Ponds

205 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

2021 Butterfly Count results - Saturday, July 3

12 Cabbage White

6 Clouded Sulfur

2 Summer Azure

23 Great Spangled Fritillary

1 Question Mark

1 Eastern Comma

4 Mourning Cloak

3 Northern Pearly-eye

15 Appalachian Brown

46 Little Wood-Satyr

35 Common Wood-Nymph

3 Monarch

1 Least Skipper

1 Crossline Skipper

5 Northern Broken-Dash

2 Delaware Skipper

2 Mulberry Wing

21 skipper species

2 brown species

Mourning Cloak feeding on a milkweed flower in the North-80
Mourning Cloak feeding on a milkweed flower in the North-80
Sorting out a skipper in the North-80
Sorting out a skipper in the North-80

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 platform.

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 Dock

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.

NOTICE: Our Treetop Pond dock is under reconstruction and is currently not accessible. Please be patient with us as we work hard to construct a new, wonderful dock for our visitors to enjoy. 

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