Plan your visit
There is no charge to enter the Stage Nature Center Building or to hike the preserve. Visitors are welcome to walk our trails from dawn to dusk daily.
There is ample free parking on-site at the Stage Nature Center. There is a small walk from the parking lot to the trail entrance and Interpretive Building. Barrier-free handicapped parking is available near the nature center interpretive building. Follow the signs that direct you to the handicapped parking area.
Entering the Trails (view trail map here)
During building open hours, visitors should enter through the interpretive building and exit out the back door to a paved path that will lead to two trail entrances on the Sugar Maple Loop. Visitors can access the trail by going over the Rouge River Bridge or heading east (left) past the Sugar Shed.
During building closed hours, visitors should enter the trails via the path that begins to the left of the interpretive building. There is a wooden fence that is opened after the interpretive building closes each afternoon, creating easy access to the trails.
Rules of the Trail
- Open daily from dawn to dusk
- Trails are for walking only no pets, biking, running or skiing
- No collecting or foraging
- Stay on the trails for your safety
- Feeding wildlife is strictly prohibited
- Snowshoeing is welcome and encouraged when the trails are snow-covered
Visitors Guide to the Nature Center Grounds & Trails
As visitors walk towards the Stage Nature Center interpretive building, they will notice climbing rocks located on the front lawn of the building. Visitors will notice children climbing the rocks (appropriate for 5 and up) and playing games around the rocks while adult onlookers supervise the play.
During daytime hours, visitors will notice several picnic tables on the front lawn of the nature center. Many enjoy eating lunch under a shady tree as an alternative to staying indoors during the warmer months. Our picnic area is surrounded by beautiful landscapes and the sounds of a wide variety of birds who call the nature center home. Its a wonderful break during a busy day!
There are four trails on our 100 acre preserve; Sugar Maple Loop, Bluebird Loop, Bluebird Trail and Fox Trail. The total distance is over 1.5 miles and leads visitors through a wide range of landscapes including lowland forests, upland forests, meadows and marshlands. Our visitors will also get a look at the Rouge River headwaters as they flow through our preserve. A portion of the Sugar Maple Loop is paved, the other trails are groomed with mulch. There are portions of the trail that are covered with boardwalks which allow visitors to explore our marshlands.
Sugar Maple Loop Trail (0.4 miles)
This trail is partially paved and is ADA accessible. The rest of the trail is groomed with mulch and is easily navigated by visitors with good to moderate mobility. This trail is accessed by trails on either side of the maple sugar shed, this trail winds through the lowland and upland forest area where hikers can observe a wide range of wildlife, musclewood, sugar maple, red oak and beech trees.
Blackbird Loop (0.7 miles)
This is our longest trail and is accessed from the sugar maple loop. This trail leads visitors through towering wet & dry forest lands and wet sedge & dry meadows. The boardwalks are an interesting shift in terrain as visitors tour these unique landscapes.
Bluebird Trail (.13 miles)
Our shortest trail also serves as a shortcut through the center of blackbird loop. This trail features the edge between meadow and forest. Many animals can be seen on this trail as this is an important habitat for the wildlife that frequents the preserve.
Fox Trail (0.35 miles)
One of our more interesting trails that leads visitors through the marshlands over five boardwalks. Visitors are encouraged to explore our marsh tower which serves as an outlook point to view the Rouge River bottomlands.
One interesting feature of our marshland tour is the Marsh Tower Overlook. The walk to the Marsh Tower is worth the effort to get a birds-eye view of the marshland and meadow landscapes that come together at this point in the preserve.
Interpretive Building Activities
As visitors enter the 8,200 square foot interpretive building (see hours here) they are greeted with a variety of nature related activities and displays. Upon entering, to the right, visitors will see a Mastodon Dig Site, to the left, children's activity area and an aqua wall, which houses a variety of live reptiles and amphibians.
Bee Sure to Visit our Bees!
Stage Nature Center is home to an active, thriving observation bee hive. As visitors walk to the back of the lobby, turn left down the hall to the observation area. The bees are sponsored by our generous partner & bee keeper Dennis Holly of Holly's Bees , an Oakland County Master Honey Producer and Apiculturist who has been successfully keeping bees and producing responsible (cruelty free) honey for 38 years. Dennis checks in on the queen and all the other bees several times per year and even helped us manage the swarm that occurred earlier this year. He set up a bait box in a nearby tree and was able to successfully save the hive. We now have a new queen who has been very busy this summer laying eggs and running the hive...a woman's work is never done.
The Stage Nature Center offers many hands-on activities for children and adults. The lobby is a showplace for a variety of wildlife displays and houses a library that is filled with useful books & articles related to nature. There is an activity area where children can play games, play dress up or just sit on our bean bags and read a book from our library.
The Mastodon Dig site is definitely a favorite activity for our youngest visitors. The "dig site" is filled with rubber mulch, Mastodon replica bones, shovels, boulders and brushes. It is a display that is not to be missed!