Kalamazoo Nature Center: 5 Miles from Downtown Kalamazoo, But a Different World

Kalamazoo Nature Center

The Kalamazoo Nature Center is a Family’s Paradise

My husband and I love to hike and now that our kids have outgrown the hiking backpacks, it’s a whole different feel. Kid friendly trails that are simple to navigate and have areas to play is our speed these days. 

The Kalamazoo Nature Center (KNC) is the perfect spot for families to get outside and explore. With trails ranging from easy to difficult and a Nature’s Playground, families with kids are sure to find something to enjoy.

KNC Trails
Visitors will find beautiful, wooded trails throughout KNC

Kalamazoo Nature Center

Get Outdoors and Explore at the Kalamazoo Nature Center

KNC is home to 1,100 wooded & rolling acres in Southwest Michigan just ten minutes from downtown Kalamazoo. Its 14 miles of hiking trails sit along the Kalamazoo River.

KNC is one of the top private nature preserves in the country and after visiting it’s easy to see why. 

7000 N Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Hours: Daily 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Admission: Free for Members | Non-Members $7/adult, $5/senior, $4/children 4-17, children 3 and under FREE

Visitor Center

If you’re looking for KNC information, maps, hands-on activities, and exhibits you’ll want to explore the Visitor Center.

We stop in each time we visit to see if there’s something new since it’s a mix of rotating and standing exhibits. The Trailhead Gift and Book shop is full of unique nature themed gifts and books. 

The Visitor Center is open Monday – Saturday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Sunday 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM. 

DeLano Farms

DeLano Farms is located on the western side of KNC and is a working educational farm that features the historic William S. DeLano homestead and farmstead. This working farm is home to learning gardens, farm animals in the summer, and a u-pick field.

The farmstead also does a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program where you can buy shares of the crop in advance. Throughout the season you’re provided with produce from the garden on a regular basis. You can find more information here

To enter DeLano Farms you’ll want to stop at KNC’s main entrance to get a daily dashboard pass.   

community supported agriculture
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at DeLano Farms

Events and Activities for Every Age and Interest

KNC has a full calendar of regularly scheduled and seasonal events for every age, ability and interest.

Events include Candlelight Night Hikes, Kids’ Night Out, Preschool Explorers, Nature of Literacy Series, and Community Emergence Series. We have our eye on the Candlelight Night Hike for a date night. 

Most programs offer financial assistance and can be requested during the registration process.

Go WILD at Summer Camp!

KNC offers many summer camp options for kids in preschool through 8th grade.

These camps get kids outside exploring and making new friends. Camps are located at KNC’s main campus and options include half day, full day, and overnight based on ages.

Summer camps for 2022 will be announced in March. You can watch for options and registration here.

Nature’s Way Preschool

Nature’s Way Preschool is one of the nation’s longest running nature-based preschools. The preschool campus is located at KNCs Oakland Drive location and sits on 30 wooded acres.

Nature’s Way believes children learn through play, so each day features activities to help children learn and develop confidence. 

Program Options

3–4-year-old (must be 3 by September 1st): Two-day programs on Tuesdays/Thursdays in the morning or afternoon 

4–5-year-old (pre-kindergarten): Three-day programs on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays in the morning or afternoon

Enrollment opens in February for the subsequent school year.

Sprouts: Outdoor Guided Toddler & Caregiver Experiences 

Sprouts is a six-week session for children three and under and their caregiver and is designed to get kids into nature.

This program is located at the Stryker Nature Preserve at 2343 Angling Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49009.

Cost: $130/family (1 adult and up to 2 children)


Woodland Wonders: A Program for Unique Learners 

Woodland Wonders is an eight-week session for children with special needs ages three-six and five-nine with their caregiver. Each session has fun activities to develop problem solving, confidence and independence. 

This program is located at the Stryker Nature Preserve at 2343 Angling Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49009.

Cost: $170/family (1 adult and up to 2 children)


woodland wonders

Find Your Perfect Trail at KNC

With over 14 miles of hiking trails, there’s something for everyone to hike at KNC.

The trails can be found on the trail map and are categorized by easy, moderate and difficult. They average a half mile to one mile in length and the difficult trails have bigger inclines and more obstacles.

Most trail paths are dirt or gravel, but a couple have wooden walkways. You’ll find a good mix of shaded and sunny trail options. The Arboretum Loop and the Habitat Haven Loop are handicapped and jogging stroller accessible. 

A nature center wouldn’t be complete without wildlife and my kids love searching for deer, bunnies, turtles, and birds while we walk the trails. It’s now a game to see who can spot the most creatures. 

The hiking trailheads are located at the Visitor Center Parking at KNC’s main campus and at DeLano Farms main entrance.

If you visit when the visitor center is closed, you can get a map and a verbal overview from the attendant at the entrance gate.

trail map
Stop by the Welcome Center when you arrive to get a copy of KNC’s trails

Nature’s Playground

Each time we visit we stop at the Nature’s Playground which is full of natural elements and water sources for exploring. It’s located along the arboretum trail and is a short, easy walk from the visitor center parking lot.

The playground is open year-round, but the water faucets are turned off late Fall – early Spring. 


A shallow creek runs through the playground. We have yet to see any fish in it, but my kids have found plenty of frogs and bugs. There’s also a larger water play area that has faucets kids can explore and cool off with. 

Kids of all ages will find something to spur their imagination at the playground. My kids love playing house in the teepee fort and running through the tunnel. It’s fascinating to watch how kids’ creativity soars when play is so open-ended. 

KNC Playground
Kids have lots to explore at the Nature’s Playground

Helpful Tips for Your Visit

  • Pack a towel or change of clothes. You never know what water or mess your kids might find. 
  • Bring the sunscreen and bug spray. 
  • A water bottle and a snack are a must for our family. 
  • Some trails are jogging stroller friendly, but a baby carrier or hiking backpack is great for younger toddlers and babies.  
  • Bathrooms are available in the lower level visitor center, near the Nature’s Playground, and portable restrooms are located at the arboretum entrance. 
  • Dogs, camping, drones, and firearms are not permitted.
  • Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trails.

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