At a Glance
- Approximate Street Address: 3901 Simonelli Road, Whitehall, MI
- Anderson Woods Nature Preserve is a forested natural area near Muskegon, Whitehall, and Montague. A wheelchair and stroller accessible trail system leads visitors through a towering oak and white pine forest, interspersed with glades lush with blueberry and wintergreen.
- Trail length: 2 miles (See Trail Map)
- Before you visit, check out our preserve guidelines. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
What to See
The two-mile Sandy Hansen Birding Trail guides visitors through the dappled shade of the forest. The Land Conservancy worked closely with Disability Network/West Michigan to design an accessible trail so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of a forested natural area.
The southern loop is fully accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, while the northern rustic loop offers opportunities to explore more secluded areas of the preserve. Birds, deer, turkeys, and other wildlife are often seen along the trail.
Anderson Woods Nature Preserve protects nearly 80 acres of hardwood forest in an area that is increasingly pressured by development. Located near the lakeshore, the preserve provides important stopover habitat for migratory birds and supports resident birds that require large tracts of unbroken forest.
In 2015, the Land Conservancy improved the visitor experience at Anderson Woods with the installation of a trail system, small parking area, and interpretive signs. Anderson Woods was made possible through the generosity of our members and the community.
A case study on the partnership with Disability Network West Michigan and other partners to create an accessible trail can be found here.
The land for Anderson Woods Nature Preserve was donated to the Land Conservancy by Judy Anderson. Her family had a long history on the land, beginning with her father, Theodore. Theodore Anderson grew up on a farm on Bard Road in Muskegon County in the early part of the 20th century. His parents were Swedish and Norwegian immigrants and Theodore was the youngest of nine children. “He hated being on the farm!” his daughter, Judy Anderson says today in telling her father’s story. “It was nothing but work.”
As an adult, Theodore became a design engineer for electronics. He, his wife Essie, and their family frequently moved around the country for job opportunities. He never lost touch with his roots, though, and in 1929, he bought an 80 acre forested property that was near his family and less than two miles from the farm where he grew up.
“The 80,” as Theodore called this property, was in Fruitland Township, just a few miles from the Lake Michigan shoreline. It is a mixed hardwood and pine forest, dominated by sandy soils and it provides nesting and feeding habitat for migratory and resident songbirds, especially those that prefer larger blocks of undisturbed forest like the ovenbird.
“My father was so fond of his 80,” Judy said. “It was always his wish to build a house on the property where he could retire and live in his old age. Mother was a city girl, though. She never wanted to live on the property. So they ended up retiring to Onekama where my mother was born. But they never sold the 80.”
Judy inherited the property after her parents passed away. As a legacy to her father who cherished the land, she donated it to the Land Conservancy in 2013 for the purpose of protecting it forever as a nature preserve. “It was my dad’s wish,” Judy said when asked why she chose to protect the property. As a Land Conservancy nature preserve, the Anderson Woods forest is open to the public for future generations to enjoy, just as Theodore Anderson once did.
The trailhead can be accessed from a parking area on the west side of Simonelli Road, between Bard Road and Duck Lake Road. The parking lot has two handicapped-accessible spaces.