On a somewhat overcast day we decided to venture to Michigan and check out two trails – Ketchum Park and Ott Biological Preserve. We definitely saved the best for last as we thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of Ott Biological Preserve.
The preserve consists of 298 acres and includes a forest of ash, birch, dogwood, hickory, maple, oak, and spicebush trees, wetlands, and two lakes. There are over 5 miles of trails including part of the North County Trail, Calhoun County Trail, Iron Belle Trail, and Great Lake to Lake trail. The Calhoun County Trail travels the outer edge of the preserve while other trails travel through the middle of the preserve. There are two parking lots making the preserve accessible from the north and south.
We parked at the south parking lot, walked past the metal gate, and took the trail to the right. The first thing we noticed was the beauty of this preserve. The trees surround you from every direction and since the leaves are starting to turn, it is absolutely beautiful. The next thing we noticed is the trail is quite wide and well maintained. It is packed gravel and dirt making it accessible for most people.
As we continued hiking on the trail we crossed several wood bridges. These did not go over streams or creeks, but wetlands and marshes. We also found some areas with large stacked stones creating retaining walls. Sunny loved investigating these and hunting for chipmunks that scurried in them. In addition to chipmunks we heard and observed birds, deer, and squirrels.
As we approached the end of the trail we saw a more rustic trail to the left. There was a map indicating that this trail lead to a lake so we decided to explore it. After a short distance we could see the lake and eventually found a short trail that took us down to it. Although there wasn’t an area where Sunny could put her toes in the water, she was able to stand on some tree trunks near the water. After exploring the lake we continued back to the main trail and to the north parking lot. Once there we turned around and headed back to the south parking lot.
Although the trails we explored had some inclines and descents, it was nothing too steep or difficult to navigate. We walked from the south parking lot to the north parking lot and back for a total of nearly 4M.
Sunny and I rate the Ott Biological Preserve 3.5 out of 4 paws up. We love the trail which is wide, well maintained, and surrounded by trees. It has trail markers and maps making it easy to know where you are. There are some side trails that travel through the woods and to the lakes. Two parking lots provide plenty of parking. The only downside is we did not find a restroom. Other than that, this is truly a beautiful hike in the woods and well worth the travel distance.
How do I get there?
There are two parking areas and ways to access Ott Biological Preserve – 1129 Olive Street and 410 Jameson Street, both in Battle Creek, MI. The directions are for the Olive Street parking. Take I-69 across the Michigan border and then take exit #36 for I-94BUS/Michigan Avenue. Turn left onto M-96/Michigan Avenue and follow it for nearly 8M. Then turn right onto Arlington Avenue and after .2M look for the blue Ott Biological Preserve sign. Turn at the sign, park in the lot, and walk toward the back of the lot toward the gate.
For more information about Ott Biological Preserve check out the Calhoun County website.