At a Glance
- Approximate Street Address: 15160 Leonard Road, Spring Lake, MI
- Located near Spring Lake, Minnie Skwarek Nature Preserve protects biodiversity, improves water quality, and provides a destination for those nearby to connect with nature.
- Trail length: 0.8 miles. (See Trail Map)
- Before you visit, check out our preserve guidelines. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
The trailhead is located near 15160 Leonard Road, across from Waterleaf Trail in Spring Lake Township. Parking is available along Leonard Road in front of the preserve sign.
What to See
A well-marked trail system on the preserve’s gentle hills leads hikers through towering hardwood forests and over a babbling stream. The preserve is particularly impressive in early spring, when bright carpets of skunk cabbage and marsh marigold cover the streamside wetlands. The south end of the preserve provides access to the Grand River and views of Dermo Island.
In an area increasingly pressured by residential development, Minnie Skwarek Nature Preserve contains an important wetland complex that protects water quality in the Grand River. The mature hardwood swamp – which follows a small stream through the property – is particularly diverse and contains unique plants like Michigan lily, swamp saxifrage, and lizard’s tail. During spring and fall migrations, songbirds flock to the preserve, using the great diversity of vegetation for food and shelter.
In 2001, the Land Conservancy was gifted the property that became Minnie Skwarek Nature Preserve from the estate of Ruth Skwarek. Ruth lived on the property for most of her life after moving there as a child with her mother, Wilhelmina (Minnie), who wanted her family to escape city life in Chicago. Minnie named the property Die Kleine Farm, German for “The Little Farm,” even though the only farming they did was raising and selling mink so that Ruth could go to college. The money was well invested, and Ruth became a respected and much-loved teacher at Muskegon Community College. When her mother died, Ruth inherited the land and the farmhouse, living there until shortly before her death.
Ruth loved the woods and wetlands of her property, and it was important to her that Die Kleine Farm would never be developed. The Land Conservancy worked with Ruth in her later years to ensure that the property was preserved through her will. As Ruth wished, the new preserve established by the Land Conservancy was named in honor of her mother, and it remains a place that inspires the connection with nature that both Minnie and Ruth Skwarek so deeply cherished.