At a Glance
- Approximate Street Address: 11715 Vergennes Road, Lowell, MI
- Located just outside of Lowell, adjacent to Lowell High School and the Wittenbach/Wege Environmental Center, this preserve is often used as an outdoor classroom by Lowell-area students and nature enthusiasts. Hiking trails wind through mixed hardwood forests, cross over a trout stream, and wander through old farm pastures.
- Trail length: 1.3 miles
- Before you visit, check out our preserve guidelines. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
What to See
A well-established system of trails leads hikers through diverse habitats on the preserve, including mature hardwood forests, young mixed woodlands, and old fields undergoing restoration. Tired hikers can cool their feet in Lee Creek, a coldwater tributary of the Grand River, then extend their hike by exploring trails on the Lowell Area Schools property immediately to the west of the preserve.
The Wege Natural Area protects high-quality natural land in an area dominated by suburban and agricultural land uses. The hardwood swamp and shrub-carr wetlands on the property are particularly diverse, together supporting more than 100 native plant species and an abundance of wildlife. Those areas also protect water quality along a half-mile of Lee Creek, a groundwater-fed trout stream that flows into the Grand River. The Land Conservancy–with the help of many volunteers–is also working to limit the impacts of invasive species on the highest quality forests and wetlands on the preserve.
The Land Conservancy is leading a long-term project to restore oak barrens and oak forest habitat in an area of the preserve that was previously a plantation of red pine. Similar restoration projects are planned for the old pasture on the south end of the property.
Much of this property has a history of intensive use. By the 1930s, the western half of the property had been clearcut and was likely used as a pasture. The eastern half of the property remained more intact, but was partially logged.
In 1960, Reg Cridler purchased the property and soon afterward planted several acres of pine in the old pasture. Mr. Cridler also built a small log cabin (which remains on the preserve today) and dug two ponds adjacent to Lee Creek in the northwest corner of the property. A now-defunct system of pipes and pumps diverted water from the creek and adjacent wetlands to a nearby house on Vergennes Street. Despite the changes in the land, Mr. Cridler appreciated the property for its natural character and rustic feel.
The property remained in the Cridler family until 1999, when the family sold the land to the Wege Foundation. The Land Conservancy worked with the Wege Foundation to acquire ownership of the property, creating the Land Conservancy’s first nature preserve in the Lowell area.
Parking is available at the Wittenbach/Wege Environmental Center, directly across from Lowell High School. Refer to the large trail map behind the Wittenbach/Wege Center for directions to the preserve’s trails.