Natural Education Reserve - Sabin & Beaver Pond Trails
When it comes to hiking in the fall we prefer trails with boardwalks and planking and wooden stairways and bridges. They allow you to focus on the changing colors while walking through marshes and along ponds, ensuring your boots stay dry and your feet warm during an otherwise chilly time of year.
The Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve has both. The 525-acre reserve has 7 miles trails with lots of boardwalks, one more than 900 feet long, and 19 sets of stairways along with lots of marshes and ponds in an area of the state that has lots of color in October.
Within the long, narrow park are a marsh, swamp, level terrain, upland forest, pine forest, creek, river, and an active beaver pond. The various habitats are home to beaver, otter, mink, fox, deer and excellent birding. Best of all the area is only 3 miles from downtown Traverse City.
So close yet so diverse.
The Boardman River is the central feature of the reserve and at one time Consumers Power owned three abandoned dams along it. When the one of them, the Keystone Dam, washed out in 1961 Consumers Power offered to sell the entire area, dams and all, to Grand Traverse County for $1. The county accepted the offer and in 1976 the park was officially dedicated as a "natural environmental classroom," an area that is used today by local schools to teach botany and biology.
The park’s trail system borders Sabin and Boardman Ponds as well as the Boardman River and is accessed from six trailheads. The majority of the paths are linear trails - you backtrack to return to your car - as there is only enough room for a few loops. And a break in the trail system around Boardman Pond essentially separates the Natural Education Reserve into two parks, preventing visitors from traversing the length of the property.
The northern half of the reserve includes the short Fox Den Trail, and Sabin Pond and Beaver Pond Trails which merge into each other and are anchored by the Boardman River Nature Center. The Boardman Pond Trail is covered in the southern half of the Reserve along with the Keystone Rapids Trail and the barrier-free Lone Pine Trail.
|Difficulty - Easy|