Fernwood's 55-acre nature preserve are both strikingly beautiful and unusually diverse. A 125-foot drop in elevation has given rise to several natural communities, including dry and wet forests, young second-growth woods, streams and ponds, and a carefully reconstructed tallgrass prairie.
Trails of varying length provide access to the preserve. Some climb steeply while others offer gentle grades. All are kept simple so visitors remain close to nature. Surfaces are wood-chipped or bare earth, and there are steps on hilly portions and boardwalks over wet areas. Benches provide places to rest and observe the beautiful surroundings.
With 105 acres of diverse habitats and structures, Fernwood is an ideal place for geocaching! Thanks to the support of the GeoCats, Fernwood hosts 12 geocaches, updated as of June 2015. Many of them follow Waldo, Odlaw the “Anti-Waldo,” Waldo’s girlfriends Wenda and Wilma, and his dog Woof. All caches are available at www.geocaching.com or via handout at Fernwood. Geocaching is a modern-day take on the scavenger hunt, with small containers (caches) hidden throughout the grounds and found by using GPS. Makes for a great outdoor activity with the family!
Fernwood’s 2016 PathTag is available in our Gift Shop for $5.
This year’s design features a the Niles Depot, in the Gift Shop; past designs are available in limited quantities. PathTags can be collected, left in caches as trade items, worn as necklaces or on a keychain, or displayed on a refrigerator with the addition of a magnet.
Thanks to a grant from the Jewish Women’s Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley, families visiting Fernwood can borrow backpacks with activities to do while exploring the grounds.
Most importantly, species of endangered or threatened Michigan plants and animals are protected in the preserve.
- The birds backpack includes binoculars, field guides, and checklists.
- The gardens backpack contains scavenger hunts, books on plants and flowers, an insect field guide, and a bug box.
- The preschoolers backpack helps kids explore with their five senses and contains mystery smells, pictures, magnifiers, books, etc.
Check out backpacks at the Front Desk.
Those Wild Sunflowers with Corey Hopwood
Use Your Skull with Wendy Jones