About this Tour
Welcome to the Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve! The Preserve is part of the coastline of Eastern Lake Michigan-- a globally unique system of freshwater dunes and important wildlife habitat.
The Ross Preserve is outside Bangor, Michigan near Van Buren State Park south of the town of South Haven.
This tour follows a 3-and-a-half-mile route that loops through the southern two-thirds of the nearly 1,500-acre preserve. It has an option to add another 1-and-a-half-mile loop near the end. The middle part of our route has some rolling hills and is a moderately difficult walk. The rest is on a wide, flat dirt trail, and is not difficult.
Along the route you will learn some of the history that has shaped this preserve and stories about this unique landscape and its wild inhabitants.
The Ross Preserve is within one of the last remaining stretches of northern hardwood forest in southwest Michigan. Hear stories about work to restore the forest by removing old red pine trees and planting seedlings of native tree species.
While walking, you can see how many tree species you can identify. This preserve features eastern hemlock, sugar maple, sassafras and black cherry to name a few.
The hardwood forest is just one of many different habitats at The Ross Preserve. You will learn about its coastal plain marshes, wet meadows, sand dunes, wooded inland dunes, wetlands, and small lakes. You are likely to encounter reptiles and amphibians around the coastal plain marshes and small ponds. Keep an eye out for mammals such as red fox and coyote.
While hiking through this preserve, you may see one of the 100 bird species known to nest in the shrubs and trees here throughout the year, with spring and fall migrations bringing songbirds, warblers and waterfowl to the preserve.
In the spring, the Preserve is a bird-watcher’s paradise. It is part of an important migration route, for birds returning from their tropical wintering grounds. Learn about how the migratory birds have helped shape this rare coastal plain marsh. Coastal plain marshes are typically found only along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts; yet, 42 are found in Michigan with three of the highest quality ones at the Ross Preserve.
The Preserve was established in 1988 thanks to a generous gift from Martha Parfet. It is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy
TNC is the world’s leading conservation organization, working to conserve the lands and waters upon which all life depends. The Nature Conservancy Michigan
(TNC-MI) works to protect and conserve vital ecosystems so we can enjoy resilient forests, thriving coasts, and healthy waters for generations to come.
Find More Tours Near You
If you enjoy this tour, check out more audio tours presented by The Nature Conservancy Michigan: Nan Weston Preserve
, Echo Lake Preserve
, Carl A. Gerstacker Preserve
, Mary Macdonald Preserve
, Helmut and Candis Stern Preserve
, and McMahon Lake Preserve
In addition, you can find other tours in Michigan or wherever your travels may take you at TravelStorys.com
. Every place has a story.