West Lake Nature Preserve

West Lake Nature Preserve Sign

West Lake Nature Preserve of Kalamazoo County, Michigan

Photos: © Phil Seng

Hiking the West Lake Nature PreserveCross country skiing the West Lake Nature Preserve

Trail Distance:

1.5 miles long.


From I-94 in Kalamazoo, take Exit 76. Travel south on South Westnedge for 3 miles to South Shore Drive. Turn left (east) onto South Shore and look for site entrance on the left side of the road.West Lake Nature Preserve

Trail Description:

Ski trail is not groomed.

A large and unique sphagnum bog is the highlight of this site. Trails and decking sections carry visitors from dry upland forest areas through lowland forest, marsh, swamp and finally onto the mat of sphagnum moss that grows in the bog. The dying moss forms a floating peat mass that may be 40 feet in depth. A network of special plastic decking actually “floats” right on top of this dense mat of moss. During times of high water, your feet may get slightly wet on this decking.

Wildlife Viewing:

Bogs are home to some strange plants and animals that are highly specialized for life in a wet, acidic environment. One of these is the carnivorous (meat-eating) pitcher plant, which is fairly common here. The pitcher plant has specialized leaves which look like small pitchers or vases. These leaves collect and hold rainwater. When the plant’s fragrant nectar attracts insects, they become trapped in tiny hairs and drown in the pitchers, where they are digested with special enzymes.

Other unique plants found in the nature preserve include bladderwort, pink lady’s slipper, leatherleaf, cotton grass sedge, tamarack and bog cranberry. Contact the Portage Department of Parks and Recreation for the Wander the Wetlands brochure that explains more about this rare and unusual bog community.

Facilities and Opportunities:

  • Restrooms
  • Trails – Over 2 miles of easy walking trails with self-guided tour.
  • Picnic
  • Drinking Water
  • Barrier Free

Return to Kalamazoo County, MI Trails Page

Permission and information sources are from Contributers to this Web Site, the Department of Natural Resources, Michigan.gov, National Park Service, and the USDA Forest Service.


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