Looking to reconnect with nature on over 140 acres, but you don’t want to travel hours away? Look no further than Blandford Nature Center. Started by a 17-acre donation by the Blandford family and curated Dr. Mary Jane Dockeray, Blandford Nature Center was born in the 1950s on Grand Rapids’ Northwest Side. Grab a set of binoculars and some bug repellant and come along with us as we explore one of Grand Rapids’ greatest natural areas.
Featuring 11 trails and anchored by two public schools, the Blandford Nature Center has something for all ages. The trails lead you through diverse habitats, such as meadows, pine plantations, forests, farms, and prairies, and there are a few ponds and streams on the property. For easy trails, you may want to try the Wildlife, Helen Stiles, C.A. Frost or Wagon trails, which are all less than half-of-a-mile and are the least strenuous type of trails. For the more exploratory and active types, Blandford Nature Center offers four intermediate trails, such as the North Farm, South Farm, Blue Heron and West Meadow trails. These trails are either flat or slightly hilly and range from 0.2-0.6 miles long. For the expert or advanced hiker, Blandford offers three trails; the East Loop Trail, the West Loop Trail, and the Back Forty Trail. All of these trails are somewhat hilly and are of a longer distance, anywhere between 0.25 miles and 0.7 miles.
When roaming the trails, keep an eye out for Blandford Nature Center’s wildlife. Taking up residence on the over 140-acre property are hawks, falcons, reptiles, owls, vultures, birds and other mammals. Blandford has two kestrels, a red-tailed hawk, an osprey, eight owls from seven species, a turkey vulture, a rabbit, a bobcat, six turtles and a garter snake. In additions to the wildlife, there are eight buildings open to visitors, including the visitor center, the sugar house, the star school, the blacksmith shop, the learning lab, the homestead barn, the log cabin and the Timpson Tower.
The Blandford Nature Center is open Monday through Saturday with varying hours. Please check their website at http://blandfordnaturecenter.