4 cool trails to explore in Allegan County

Allegan County has an array of nature on display at its trails and greenways. Whether you’re eager to get out there now or wait for the spring thaw, here are eight parks that offer the beauty of nature on full display, including many that are accessible to all abilities.

Among the county’s newest attractions is the Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve.

“Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve is our newest public preserve and has a really nice trail system (if I do say so myself!),” says Amelia Hansen with the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. “It has some gorgeous views and really makes you feel like you're ‘away,’ but it's actually close to downtown Allegan and just around the corner from the hospital.”

The SWMLC is also the steward of the Wau-Ke-Na North and South tracts.

“Wau-Ke-Na North Tract is smaller and has access to a small beach.  … There's a nice path through the woods that leads to the beach, which also goes past a huge tree planting project we've been working on,” Hansen says. “Wau-Ke-Na South is much larger and has extensive trails through open grasslands. It's a great place to stretch your legs! It also features a number of small ponds.”

Here are more Allegan County trails you should explore.

1. Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve
137 Thomas St., Allegan

The Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve is 140-acres of towering pine and hardwood forests.

With walking trails that wind through towering pine and hardwood forests, the 140-acre Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve’s high overlooks and riverside paths allow anyone to connect with the Kalamazoo River in a natural setting and just a couple of miles from downtown Allegan.

2. River Junction Preserve
5403 132nd Ave., Hamilton
River Junction Preserve is one of the Outdoor Discovery Network's newest greenways.

The Outdoor Discovery Network River Junction Preserve opened only a few months ago in October. With nearly 300 acres of forest sitting at the junction of the Kalamazoo and Rabbit rivers, the preserve features 3 miles of marked walking trails, including a trail alongside the Rabbit River. The trails are generally wide and flat, making them more accessible to people with mobility issues. Leashed pets are also welcome. There is also an unpaved parking lot and portable toilet.

3. Wau-Ke-Na William Erby Smith Preserve

The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy’s Wau-Ke-Na William Erby Smith Preserve is 365 acres of “forest by the water,” as the name means, but it is divided into two tracts.

The North Tract
1970 Lakeshore Dr., Fennville (approximate address)

FI-WKNA N | The small, unspoiled beach at Wau-Ke-Na Preserve, North Tract is usually a quiet place for people to connect with nature.

A flat, packed-dirt half mile trail takes visitors from the small parking area through the 130-acre property into shady coastal woods. A fork in the road offers a choice. Turn to the right, and continue a short distance to bluffs that offer scenic views of Lake Michigan. Turn to the left, and continue a bit further to a steep path down to a small, natural beach.

The South Tract
1500-1600 block of Lakeshore Dr., Fennville (approximate address)

FI-WKNA S | Pretty wildflowers like prairie phlox, coreopsis, yarrow, and ox-eye daisy flourish in the open fields at Wau-Ke-Na South Tract.

The larger South Tract (235 acres) offers 3 miles of level, mowed trails that loop through woods and fields, past ponds and marshes and cross large grasslands that “offer Big Sky views.”

4. Allegan State Game Area
6013 118th Ave, Fennville

The Allegan State Game Area offers more than 50,000 acres where families can enjoy nature.

The Allegan State Game Area offers more than 50,000 acres where families can enjoy nature. Two campgrounds with more than 20 miles of hiking trails.

There are canoe routes, many of which pass through country little changed from the days when it was home to the Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Chippewa tribes. The Allegan County Equestrian Trail System, a 60-mile network of designated trails, allows equestrians to ride horses on two trail networks, connected to equestrian parks and campgrounds.

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Read more articles by Andrea Goodell.