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.
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.
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.