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.
3CURRENT TRAIL CONDITIONS
April , 2020: Beware of those April showers - they make some of our trails a bit muddy! Even though the building is closed, the trails at Seven Ponds are OPEN. Most trails are still dry, but some are quite wet and muddy after recent rainfall. The trails that have water/mud are on the eastern end of the nature center: the connector trail between Earl's Prairie and the North-80, and a trail in the southeast corner of the North-80. Otherwise, all other trails are in decent condition. Wear footwear appropriate for spring conditions, and come out and enjoy the trails. The boardwalk leading to the A-Frame Bridge has some water on it as water levels have risen on the lakes - this may get worse before it gets better as water drains into the lakes from surrounding areas.
UPDATE: the Miller Pond Boardwalk in Paul's Woods is closed at this time. Due to the narrowness of the boardwalk, it is impossible for groups to pass one another and still remain safely distanced. Elsewhere on our trails, please adhere to the mandated six foot separation when passing one another. Failure to act responsibly may result in the closure of all trails at Seven Ponds - and we do not want to see that happen!
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: There are no restrooms available at the nature center during this facility closure. We apologize for this inconvenience.
- Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds are competing for available nest boxes around the nature center. Most boxes will eventually be occupied by Tree Swallows, but bluebirds will claim a few of them. (4/12/20)
- An immature Bald Eagle (probably 3rd year) was seen perched in a tree in Paul's Woods. We are hoping to eventually have nesting Bald Eagles at Seven Ponds. (4/12/20)
- At least one Sora was heard in the marsh in the North-80. Soras are small, secretive rails that usually slip unnoticed between the cattails, where they feed on the seeds of wetland plants as well as on aquatic invertebrates. They make two loud, very distinctive sounds which give them away: a descending, high-pitched whinny call, and a loud "kerwee" call. (4/8/20)
- A Wilson's Snipe was heard calling between the North-80 and the ponds to the west. Listen for the snipe's winnowing call, which it gives during its display flight. The snipe flies very high in the air, then flies in a rising/falling pattern, giving its distinctive winnowing call during each descent. (4/6/20)
- From the A-Frame Bridge, look towards Little Pond to see if you can spot a female Sandhill Crane as she sits, hidden in the marsh, on her nest. It will take keen eyes to find her! (4/3/20)
- Eastern Phoebes are always the first of the flycatchers to make their way north, and today they made their presence known at the nature center with theit characteristic "fee-bee!" call. Look for these small gray flycatchers with a dark face and light belly. While perched they constantly bob their tail. (4/1/20)
- The season's first butterfly - a Mourning Cloak - was observed today! With a lifespan of 11-12 months, these are among the longest-lived butterflies. They overwinter in Michigan by hibernating, frozen in "cryo-preservation" in tree cavities, beneath loose tree bark, in wood piles, and other sheltered areas. Mourning Cloaks emerge in early spring to brighten our fields and forests. (3/25/20)
- Despite chilly temps, frogs are emerging and singing throughout the nature center property. Listen for Spring Peepers, Chorus Frogs, and Wood Frogs during your visit. (3/25/20)
- Our resident Sandhill Cranes have returned, and their haunting rattle calls can be heard echoing throughout the nature center property. Listen for a pair calling in unison - the male call is lower pitched and the female is higher. (3/18/20)
- Skunk Cabbage is emerging throughout the wet areas near the A-Frame Bridge, including the cedar swamp. (3/15/20)
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:
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 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.
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 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.
Along the Trail
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.