Things To Do Outdoors
Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk. There are four trails that cover different landscapes over our 100 acre preserve; Sugar Maple Loop (0.4 mi), Blackbird Loop (0.7 mi), Bluebird Trail (.13 mi), and Fox Trail (.35 mi). All trails combined are just under two miles and will take you through lowland and upland forests, a meadow, and across boardwalks through marshlands. You’ll also get a look at the headwaters of the Rouge River that weave their way through the preserve. Our trails are an excellent place to view wildlife including deer, wild turkeys, songbirds, squirrels, chipmunks, and more. If you wish to take a shorter walk, there are several options depending on the length of time you want to spend hiking. Sugar Maple Loop is partially paved and is ADA accessible. The rest of the trail is well groomed with wood chips and is easily navigated by visitors with good to moderate mobility. Click here to download the trail map
Rules of the trails:
- During building hours, trails must be accessed only through the building
- 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. Feeding deer is against the law per DNR regulations
- Snowshoeing is welcome and encouraged when the trails are snow-covered
Trails are free – Donations are appreciated
Located in front of the Stage Nature Center interpretive building, picnic tables and climbing rocks provide a great place to eat and for children to play in the warmer months. The picnic area is surrounded by the native garden and beautiful landscapes where you can enjoy lunch under a shady tree. The climbing rocks, best suited for children 5 and up, are a great place to burn off some extra energy!
Located next to the parking lot is a native garden, a space dedicated to Michigan native plant species. The Michigan Native Garden is managed by volunteer Master Gardeners and consists of over 75 native plant species which attract a wide variety of pollinators such as native bees, wasps, and butterflies. In addition, many important pest-eating insects such as ladybugs and green lacewings thrive in the garden. The garden is free and open to the public and plant species are labeled so you can enjoy a self-guided tour and learn more about native plant species found here in Michigan.
To learn more about the Native Garden, please click here
Marsh Tower, located on Fox Trail, gives hikers an outlook point to view the Rouge River bottomlands. Get a birds-eye view of the marshland and meadow landscapes that come together and look for wildlife drawn to this unique area.
Located just outside the back of the nature center is our Monarch Way Station butterfly garden. Monarch way stations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. The colorful flowers attract many species of butterflies and moths, bees, and even hummingbirds.
To learn more about Monarch Way Stations, please click here.
Things To Do Indoors
Learn about the native wildlife you can find here in Michigan as you explore the 8,200 square foot interpretive building. Before hitting the trails, be sure to take a look around our exhibit hall that features a variety of displays and taxidermy, an aqua wall with live animals, a library, and a wildlife observation area.
The Kids Activity Area is a fun place for young explorers to put on a costume, grab a puzzle, play a game, sit on bean bags with a book from the library, color a picture, and more!
The Mastodon Dig site is definitely a favorite activity for our youngest visitors. The “dig site” is filled with rubber mulch, Mastodon replica bones, and boulders. Grab a shovel or brush and become an archaeologist (a person who studies fossils to learn about the past) and unearth replica fossils and mastodon bones. It is a display that is not to be missed!
Our library is a great place to grab a book and relax. We have a wide range of books and resources from field and wilderness guides on birds, insects, plants, mushrooms, mammals and more to nature-themed novels and narratives. We also have a section of children’s books and magazines perfect for learning all about the amazing world around us.
Our aqua wall is home to many of our native animal ambassadors that live at the nature center. Get an up close look at some exciting reptiles, amphibians, and even a crayfish that you can find right here in Michigan!
Interested in adopting one of the critters? Your adoption helps provide food, enrichment, and medical care for the animals. Click here for more information.
Our indoor wildlife observation area is a great place to sit and watch busy birds, squirrels, and chipmunks coming and going from our bird feeders. If you’re lucky, you may even see wild turkeys hanging around!
Be sure to check out our active vermicomposting (worm composting!) bin. Take a peek inside the bin and see the red wigglers hard at work breaking down food scraps into rich compost that we use in the gardens. It’s one of the many ways we try to lessen our impact on the environment at SNC!