Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary - Manistee National Forest
We stood near the edge of Loda Lake, looking for a splash of pink but finding only brown leaves. We were too early for color. But, though we had never been in the Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary before, we knew that in a few weeks a pink lady’s slipper orchid would grace this spot. Post number 6 told us so.
A little way down the trail, post number 9 indicated sweetferns, and, my gosh, it was right. We dropped to our knees, and pushing up through last fall’s decaying leaves were the small fiddleheads of this year’s understory of ferns.
Originally part of a 1000-acre private reserve, Loda Lake was sold to Manistee National Forest during the Great Depression. Because of the wide variety of habitats found in a relatively small area, the U.S. Forest Service invited the Federated Garden Clubs of Michigan in 1938 to assist in creating a sanctuary for native plants, especially endangered and protected species, to ensure their survival.
Today the 72-acre preserve is still managed by the Federated Garden Clubs and over the years has evolved into a unique haven for botanists, wildflower enthusiasts, and families looking for a short but scenic hike. Winding through the sanctuary is a 1.5-mile loop with 40 numbered posts, keyed to an interpretive brochure, that mark the locations of plants. Most are wildflowers, and the trail guide informs you when they will be in bloom: early spring, summer, or fall. If you stop to examine every one, plan on a good hour for this hike and longer if you like sitting on a bench searching a small lake for wildlife.
|Difficulty - Easy|