by Jill Piwko
Fun In the Great Outdoors for All Seasons – Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring!
Looking to get outside and enjoy some great outdoor fun in the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek area?
Here are some of our favorite outdoor places to visit when we are looking to hike, explore, and experience the great outdoors. If you have a favorite outdoor place to visit, please let us know by leaving us a comment.
W.K. Kellogg Experimental Forest
Location: 7060 N. 42nd St., Augusta
• Daylight saving time (Second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November): Grounds open every day 8 am to 8 pm.
• Regular time: Grounds open every day 8 am to dusk.
• Office hours are 9 am to 1 pm, Mondays through Fridays.
• Grounds closed only on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Easter Sunday.
Cost: Free admission
This is a good place to take a hike when you want to get away from it all. We love the covered bridge at the entrance for fish watching and the stream, too. For hiking, there is a changing landscape, so this spot is not the best for younger children or strollers if you plan to walk the big loop. The forest has one of our favorite maple sugar demonstrations that normally take place in March. The trails are a good place to cross country ski in the winter.
Phone: 269-731-4597. Contact W.K. Kellogg Forest for more details.
Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery
Location: 34270 County Road 652, Mattawan
Hours: Grounds are always open.
Visitor center hours:
• Spring and fall (March-May, September-October): 10 am to 4 pm. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 4 pm. Sundays and closed Mondays.
• Summer (June-August): 10 am to 6 pm. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 6 pm Sundays
• November: Open weekends through Thanksgiving and some weekdays.
• Winter (December-February): Closed except for special programs.
Cost: Free admission
We loved the tour of the fish hatchery and found it interesting to both parents and kids. The fish hatchery produces a wide range of fish species that are stocked in the Great Lakes as well as inland lakes throughout the state. Make sure that you check their website for touring times. They also have free fishing days during the summer. Check the website for dates and times. Also, offered is “Arrows Away Archery” on Thursday nights.
One of the highlights is to feed the fish behind the main touring outpost. You can get a free token to feed the fish if you participate in the hatchery tour.
Phone: 269-668-2876. Contact the Wolf Lake Hatchery for more details.
Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
Location: 12685 East C Ave., Augusta
• Grounds are open every day November through April, 9 am to 5 pm
• May through October, 9 am to 7 pm
• Gift shop is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 11 am to 4 pm Saturdays and Sundays. Call ahead to check availability of the gift shop hours. Hours may vary.
Cost: Adults $5, senior citizens (62-plus) $4, children (2-12) $3, younger than 2 free. Annual memberships are available.
We love feeding the geese and the ducks in the pond and walking around to explore the property. There is a good walking path that is accessible with strollers. You’ll also find various birds in pens along the paths which are fun for the kids to see. Check out their summer Wednesday night programs for kids.
Phone: 269-671-2510. Contact the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary for more details.
Kalamazoo Nature Center
Location: 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo and DeLano Farm, 357 West E Ave, Kalamazoo
Hours: 9 am-5 pm. Mondays through Saturdays, 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Grounds open until 6 pm. Grounds are closed December 22-25 and January 1.
Cost: $7 for adults; $6, seniors (55 plus); $4, children (4-17); free for children 3 and younger. Annual family memberships available for $75.
We love the Kalamazoo Nature Center whether we want to go for a family walk, explore the Interpretive Center, or head over for one of their weekly story times. The Interpretive Center offers tanks of turtles, fish, salamanders and frogs and toads. Always a bonus is all of the buttons to push. What kid doesn’t love pushing buttons, right?
There are a variety of trails to hike and a trail map available to guide you along the way. Walking down to the stream is one of our favorite short hikes. We also like to visit the birds outside the main Interpretive Center. The nature trails range from 0.2 easy miles to 2.7 difficult miles.
Also, check out the DeLano Farm where your kiddos can visit the barn animals. Check out the schedule for the Kalamazoo Nature Center as there are a number of programs offered at the DeLano Farm such as Saturday “Chores on the Farm” or “Wednesdays at the Farm Yard” which is great for the younger kiddos.
Phone: (269) 671-2510. Contact the Kellogg Nature Center for details.
Leila Arboretum and Children’s Garden
Location: 928 W Michigan Ave, Battle Creek
Hours: Leila Arboretum-Daily from Dawn to Dusk during seasonal hours. Children’s Garden-Weekdays: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (April – October), Saturdays: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm (June – September)
Cost: There are no daily admission fees for the Children’s Garden or Leila Arboretum.
This little garden Children’s Garden in Battle Creek is a fun garden to spend part of the day with small children. The Children’s Garden is an ever-changing environment where children can explore the world of plants. The larger Leila Arboretum is a great place to walk through the paths and enjoy the landscape. Check out their website for some of their fun seasonal hands-on activities. We love the harvest events that they do each fall.
Phone: 269-969-0270. Contact the Leila Arboretum and Children’s Garden for more details.
Fort Custer Recreation Area
Location: 5163 W. Fort Custer Drive, State Highway M-96, Augusta
Hours: Park hours Monday-Sunday 8:00 am-10:00 pm.
Cost: Free with your Michigan Recreational Passport.
We are amazed at how big this park is! This recreation area has three lakes as well as the Kalamazoo River, high rolling meadows, soggy wetland, and abundant woods. There are 22 miles of hiking, biking, and horse trails, campsites, and meow. Activities include Eagle Lake beach (limited shady areas so take your beach umbrella), picnic shelters, hunting, fishing, mountain biking and cross country skiing areas.
Phone: 269-731-4200. Contact the Fort Custer Recreational Area website for more information.
Location: 9920 South Westnedge Avenue, Portage
Hours: 8:00 am to dusk
Bishop’s Bog Preserve is another natural treasure of the City of Portage. This 152-acre preserve is the largest “relict” bog in Southern Michigan. We love that you can walk that this bog is so close to everything in Portage, yet you feel like you are immersed in nature.
Phone: 269-329-4522. Contact the Portage Parks and Recreation Department for more information.
Looking For A Place To Bike With The Family?
Want to bike together as a family but don’t know where to go? Here are a few of the places that you can safely bike (or walk) with the family around the area: