We took a little road-trip to Portage MI since Art had to travel there for business. Sunny and I tagged along and checked out not one, not two, but three parks. We visited West Lake Nature Preserve, Schrier Park, and Eliason Nature Reserve all within a two mile drive in Portage MI. It was a fun adventure and we look forward to returning in the future.
West Lake Nature Preserve
Our first stop was West Lake Nature Preserve which was our favorite of the three parks. This park is located at 9001 S. Westnedge Avenue and was created from land purchased from two different families – the Percy Matteson family and Robert and Opal Peck. There is a blue sign on S. Westnedge Avenue that leads to a large parking lot with restrooms and playground equipment. Park near the entrance and walk toward the woods.
There are two paths, one is mowed grass and the other is dirt and wood chips. We took the wood chip path which wound around a bog and through the woods. The trail is mostly flat, although there were some slightly muddy sections. The majority of the path is dirt and wood chips, but near the end we found an asphalt section. There are trails that go out onto the bog, but during this visit only one was open and we did not walk out on it. The trail is shady and the day we visited it was a little chilly since it was overcast. On a sunny day this would be a great place to take a hike due to the shade. We walked just over 2M by walking the path along the bog and then turning around once we encountered the asphalt section. This trail is not appropriate for those with mobility issues.
Sunny and I give this trail 3.5 out of 4 paws up. We enjoyed the views of the bog and being in the woods. There were many interesting things to look at – downed trees, the bog, a teepee made from branches, and birds and squirrels. The only downside for us was there wasn’t a body of water that you could put your feet in. That was always Karlie’s favorite thing to do and Sunny enjoys it too.
Our next stop was Schrier Park located at 850 W. Osterhout Avenue. Alice Schrier’s estate donated funds to make creation of the park possible. Again the entrance has a blue sign that leads to a parking lot. Park near the picnic pavilion and walk on the asphalt trail. At the start of the trail is a map of the park showing the different trails. There are several different trails with sections that are asphalt and dirt with wood chips making portions of this park handicapped accessible. Again the trails are through the woods making this a shady hike. Sunny enjoyed snooping around the downed trees and watching some deer. We walked several different trails for a total distance of just over 1M.
Sunny and I give this park 3 out of 4 paws up. We enjoyed being in the woods and appreciated that sections of the trail would be appropriate for those with limited mobility. We always prefer longer trails and those with accessibility to water, but this is a nice place for a hike.
Eliason Nature Reserve
Our last stop was Eliason Nature Reserve at 1614 W. Osterhout Avenue. Linda Eliason donated the land for the park in 2011. It consists of 141 acres with a 1.6M asphalt trail. Again look for the blue sign on W. Osterhout Avenue that leads to the parking lot and restroom. The trail starts at the restroom and winds through the woods. There is even a little natural shade garden just off the trail. The trail does not feel quite so much like a walk in the woods as the two other locations, but is still a nice place for a hike. We were only able to hike for about half a mile before it was time for us to head home. We would like to return to further investigate this location and see all it has to offer.
Sunny and I give this park 2.5 out of 4 paws up, but this is only based on a small part of the trail. The main reason for the rating is it’s an asphalt trail. Although that’s fantastic for those who have limited mobility, we prefer dirt trails. It also didn’t feel like we were in the woods as much as we like.
We rate the parks in Portage MI a solid 3 out of 4 paws up with West Lake Nature Preserve as our favorite. All the trails are well maintained and well marked, have signs at the entrance making them easy to find, have nice parking lots with restrooms, and have trail maps at the start of the hike. They are all nice walks in the woods and well worth a visit if you live in or are visiting Portage MI.
How do I get there?
From 131 take Shaver Road to W. Osterhout Avenue. Eliason Nature Reserve is on the left. A little further down the road is Schrier Park, also on the left. Continue down W. Osterhout Avenue and take a left on S. Westnedge Avenue. West Lake Nature Preserve is on the right.
For more information about Portage MI and the parks, check out these websites.