When in the Kalamazoo area, this is a place to go that is not far from the city, yet allows you to get immersed in the great outdoors. The fourteen trails found here of varying lengths give hikers walking at their own pace a chance to experience the sights and sounds of nature among a variety of land forms. Some trails pass by streams or ponds or a large river. One trail passes through a tunnel under a railroad track while another passes through a tunnel under a road. Each season offers a different experience here as with the spring wildflowers, the summer prairies, the fall leaf colors, and the winter tree silhouettes, along with the changing bird, animal, and butterfly behaviors, for examples. Staff-guided walks are often scheduled, and there is a lot of information given within the hour or so. While I am partial to the outdoor sights and sounds, inside the Interpretive Center there is a large variety of things to see and do, also. The Kalamazoo River Valley Trail comes by the Nature Center entrance for those that wish to bike here. The daily entrance fee is reasonable, but an annual membership is worthwhile if one anticipates coming here more than four times per year, allowing no-charge admissions and discounts on other programs, as well as the bi-monthly newsletter/calendar of events. This is not a recreation park nor a zoo, but a large area protected from the ever-growing urban sprawl where one can experience and learn about nature without distractions.
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