Brower Lake Nature Preserve

County: Kent Established: 2002 63 Acres
Features
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Hiking
  • Sensitive Habitat
Amenities
  • Leashed Pets Allowed
  • Parking

At a Glance

  • Approximate Street Address: 8748 Je-Ne-Be Dr., Rockford, MI 
  • Overlooking Brower Lake near Rockford, this preserve protects rare bog and oak barrens ecosystems. The land provides quality habitat for a multitude of wildlife and provides people with a quiet natural landscape for hiking and nature study. 
  • Trail length: 1.4 miles (See Trail Map) 
  • Before you visit, check out our preserve guidelines. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. 

Visitor Information

A small, two-car parking area and trailhead are located at 8748 Je-Ne-Be Drive, Rockford, MI. Look for the preserve entrance sign. 

Brower Lake Nature Preserve is a Category 2 preserve. Trails wind across the hilly preserve and lead hikers through several forest types and past a variety of wetlands, providing excellent opportunities for birding, wildlife viewing, and enjoying quiet encounters with nature. There are no restrooms at this preserve.

Trail Information

The total length of the trail at Brower Lake Nature Preserve is 1.4 miles. The natural surface trail is about 1.5 feet wide. The average grade is 5% and the trail reaches a maximum grade of 18% in the northwest quadrant of the trail loop through the oak forest. The average cross slope is less than 2%.

Access the first loop from the trailhead. At the first intersection, you can choose to turn right or left to meander along rolling terrain through sun-dappled oak forest. There is a bench within .5 miles in each direction. Continue north to reach an opening in the forest canopy: the oak savanna restoration site. Walking further north will take you across a road into a forested area and then along a bog and a swamp.

Please note: There are two spurs along the trail which conclude at the preserve boundary. You will need to turn around at these points to get back to the loop that leads you back to the parking area.

Conservation Value

This preserve permanently protects wetlands and forest in an area increasingly pressured by development. Along with a sphagnum bog and a mature oak-hickory forest, the preserve also contains remnants of an oak barrens natural community – one of Michigan’s rarest ecosystem types. 

The preserve sits on a glacial moraine. Its unique wetlands, including a biodiverse sphagnum bog, are kettle ponds—the result of blocks of ice that were left behind by glaciers and melted thousands of years ago. You can find birdfoot violet and goat’s rue, wildflowers unique to this habitat, blooming here in spring. Migratory birds like Baltimore oriole and Blackburnian warbler can be spotted in the forest overstory in the spring and fall. 

The Land Conservancy is working to restore the oak barrens and oak-hickory forest on the preserve by carefully using prescribed fire and selectively thinning the dense forest canopy. Volunteers often help to remove invasive species like honeysuckle and garlic mustard that threaten the health of the oak barrens, forests, and other areas of the preserve. 

History

According to General Land Office surveys conducted circa 1800, Brower Lake Nature Preserve was mostly composed of mixed oak forests and some mixed-conifer swamps prior to European settlement. Beginning in the 1800s, portions of the preserve were logged, farmed, or planted with non-native pine. Some of the natural vegetation has recovered since that time, and the Land Conservancy, through the generosity of Peter Wege and the Wege Foundation, established Brower Lake Nature Preserve in 2002. The preserve’s establishment reflects both the Land Conservancy’s and the Wege Foundation’s commitment to include natural greenspace as part of a developing landscape.

Features
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Hiking
  • Sensitive Habitat
Amenities
  • Leashed Pets Allowed
  • Parking

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