The Highlands

County: Kent Established: 2017 121 Acres
Features
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Hiking
  • Scenic Vista
  • Urban Greenspace
  • Water Feature
Amenities
  • Leashed Pets Allowed
  • Parking
The Highlands is a collaborative project between the Land Conservancy and Blandford Nature Center.

At a Glance

  • 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: 2.6 miles (See Trail Map)
  • Parking is available in the large lower lot.
  • The Highlands is free to access and open to the public from dawn until dusk.
  • Visit thehighlandsgr.org for more information.

Notice: Summer projects at The Highlands!

As part of the ongoing work to restore The Highlands to a natural landscape, there are a few projects that will begin in the coming weeks.

For years, a pipe buried beneath The Highlands has been sending water into Indian Mill Creek, a tributary to the Grand River. Raising this waterflow to the surface, or “daylighting” the stream, will slow down the rush of water and improve the water quality of both Indian Mill Creek and the Grand River. In addition to daylighting the stream, fencing along the border of The Highlands will be removed to ensure wildlife can easily access the restored habitat.

While we are excited about these upcoming projects, we would like to inform our visitors that it may be noisy at times, portions of trails will be closed, and the area may look less natural before it transforms into the healthy landscape we are working towards. We appreciate your patience as The Highlands continues to become a thriving natural space!

What to See

In its first seasons as a natural area, the grass at The Highlands has grown high and wildlife has moved in, including turtles, fox, deer, muskrat and a multitude of birds and insects. The Land Conservancy, with the help of volunteers, has planted a variety of native wildflowers and grasses which have already begun to flourish. With help from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ducks Unlimited, the Land Conservancy has installed eight wetlands on the property. Ducks, herons, frogs, turtles and more have flocked to them, bringing biodiversity to the middle of the city.

Conservation Value

It is rare for a piece of manicured or developed urban land to return to nature. For over a century, the land had been heavily watered and fertilized. The long-term 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.

History

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.

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.

The Phase One campaign to secure The Highlands is complete. Our community’s vision to transform this former golf course into a premier space for learning, recreation and conservation is now a reality. 

The Highlands project is made possible with support from the Judy & Kenneth Betz Family, CDV5 Foundation, Consumers Energy Foundation, Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation, Frey Foundation Fund of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, REI, The Conservation Fund, Third Coast Development, Wege Foundation, Wolverine Worldwide Foundation and many more.

Guidelines

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
Play golf
Use bikes or motorized vehicles
Damage trails, signs, or natural features

Features
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Hiking
  • Scenic Vista
  • Urban Greenspace
  • Water Feature
Amenities
  • Leashed Pets Allowed
  • Parking

Sign up for our E-news!

Receive the latest West Michigan conservation news, events and volunteer opportunities in your inbox.
* = required field
Subscriptions