Approximate Street Address: 2715 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI
The Highlands is located on the west side of the city of Grand Rapids at the former Highlands Golf Club and adjacent to Blandford Nature Center. Planning and restoration efforts are underway to transform the property into a premier urban natural area.
Trail length: 2 miles
Parking is available in the large lower lot. Parking in the circle drive lot in front of the clubhouse and the lot behind the clubhouse is reserved for building tenants only.
Currently, The Highlands closely resembles its 100+ year history as a golf course. However, in its first season as a natural area, the grass has grown high and wildlife has moved in, including turtles, fox, deer, muskrat, and a multitude of birds and insects.
It is rare for a piece of manicured or developed urban land to return to nature. For over a century, the land has been extensively watered and fertilized. The restoration of this landscape will bring about substantial improvements to water and air quality in the city and will help in the city’s goal to increase forest canopy. The project also offers educational opportunities and will be a model for large-scale urban restoration in the region.
Blandford Nature Center and the Land Conservancy of West Michigan collaborated on the purchase of the 121-acre Highlands Golf Club in Grand Rapids in the winter of 2017 with a vision to transform the property into a natural area for community recreation and education (Read more about the acquisition here).
The property was acquired with a loan from The Conservation Fund. The Conservation Fund is a national nonprofit organization that helps local communities achieve their conservation goals. As the property begins its transformation, Blandford and the Land Conservancy will be working with the community to create a plan and make improvements on the property. Once plans are in place, they will be working with the community to secure the necessary funding to repay the loan.
The Highlands project is made possible with support from the Judy & Kenneth Betz Family, Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation, Frey Foundation Fund of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Third Coast Development, Wege Foundation and Wolverine Worldwide Foundation.
The Highlands is a place where people of all ages can discover nature. Please help promote safe use by following these guidelines when visiting:
Make Sure You:
Keep pets leashed and pick up their waste
Take out your trash
Stay out of the buildings
Leave plants and wildlife in place
Enjoy your visit!
Please Do Not:
Camp or build fires
Bring alcohol or smoke
Use bikes or motorized vehicles
Damage trails, signs, or natural features
Lamberton Lake Fen Nature Preserve is the Land Conservancy’s most urban preserve. Despite being within the Grand Rapids city limits, the preserve protects a high-quality prairie fen, a type of wetland that is very rare in West Michigan.
Located in Rockford, the Maas Family Preserve is home to a remnant oak-pine barrens ecosystem–a unique savanna community that supports the endangered Karner blue butterfly. The preserve is a popular stop-off point for users of the White Pine Trail, particularly in May and June when the purple lupine is in full bloom.