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Five Faves

Summer retreats abound in area preserves by


After months of being cooped up, socially distanced and quarantined, many people are ready to embrace the coming summer and the great outdoors. The 18 public preserves of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy offer abundant opportunities for you to do just that. These are some of the “sweet spots” that we, the staff of the conservancy, recommend:

Jeptha Lake Fen 49000 block of County Road 380, Grand Junction

Corey Lake North Bay Preserve 58000 block of West Clear Lake Road, Three Rivers


time I drive through St. Joseph County, I make a point to swing by Corey Lake North Bay Preserve, either to eat my lunch or just to take a five-minute break. While I sit amongst a carpet of Pennsylvania sedge, I close my eyes and hear the sound of the breeze off the lake rustling the oak leaves above. Without fail, I forget my binoculars but still manage to spot eastern wood-pewees, eastern phoebes, red-bellied woodpeckers and northern flickers. This preserve is small but mighty, with beautiful towering oak woods overlooking the north side of Corey Lake. No matter what time of year you visit, it always has exactly what you need to realign yourself with the natural world. — Dave Brown, Stewardship Specialist 10 | ENCORE MAY 2021

Jeptha Lake Fen, halfway between Kalamazoo and South Haven, offers a onemile hike through a unique and fascinating habitat. Trails include rustic two-track roads, mowed paths, and a boardwalk out into the wetlands. Summer is a spectacular time of year to visit this preserve with its blazing purple wildflower displays, birdcalls overhead and 49 acres of fen and forest to explore. I recommend visiting Jeptha in July, when wildflowers are at their peak and summer is in full swing. — Hilary Hunt, Director of Land Protection

Bow in the Clouds Preserve 3401 Nazareth Road, Kalamazoo

Bow in the Clouds is the quintessential

“summer in the city” retreat from the heat and hubbub. Tucked into the northeast corner of Kalamazoo, these 60 acres will make you feel like you’re 60 miles from the city grind. A wide, accessible trail meanders into the preserve, taking you to a breezy and breathtaking overlook. Then you can head to the narrower foot trails that lead into the cool shade of oaks older than the city itself. Stop to admire a clear and cold creek and you’ll be cooled down enough to step out onto the sunny wetland boardwalk. Visit the preserve in August and your “welcoming committee” along the boardwalk will be a stand of stunning pink Joe Pye weed as far as the eye can see. — Mitch Lettow, Stewardship Director