Chippewa Nature Center is situated along the Pine and Chippewa Rivers, with over six miles of river frontage. Views of the Chippewa River can be enjoyed from the River Trail where you can look for geese, ducks and basking turtles. The Pine River can be enjoyed from the comfort of the River Overlook inside the Visitor Center or from the Kathy Garrett Overlook just off Arbury Trail.
Marshes can be found at the Wetland Area. These marshes were constructed in 1991, as mitigated wetlands when the Midland Mall was constructed on the north side of town.
The 16-acre Howard L. Garrett Arboretum offers more than 100 species of Michigan-native trees and shrubs. Wander the trails, walk through a birch alley, tuck under dense conifers or marvel at the size and diversity of leaves overhead. Un-mowed areas are filled with wildflowers and native grasses, making it an ideal location to look for butterflies and other pollinators. The Arboretum Trail circles the edge of the Arboretum while a number of additional mowed trails crisscross the middle affording close-up visits with additional trees and shrubs.
The Oxbow formed during the great flood of May 1912 as high waters changed the course of the river, cutting off a narrow neck of land on its northern border. The result was the creation of a pond, no longer connected to the rest of the river channel which once created it. Today, the mature woods at the Oxbow contains some of the largest oak, walnut and sycamore trees at CNC. This ecosystem attracts birds such as pileated woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, wild turkeys, owls and a variety of migrating warblers. The pond itself is home to river otters, muskrat, beaver, fish and a number of turtle species.
The Homestead Farm area features an 1870’s style farmstead with a log cabin, timberframe barn, root cellar, wagon barn, chicken coop, garden, crop fields and (modern) outhouse. The Log Cabin was an original building relocated to the site from within Midland County, while the Timber frame Barn was built in 2016 using traditional methods. From May through November, visitors can see chickens, sheep, pigs and a cow and calf.
The Log Schoolhouse was a cabin before it was brought to the site and converted to a schoolhouse. During programs you can use a McGuffy Reader, practice penmanship on a slate board, or play traditional recess games. You can explore the interior of the buildings and participate in special tours and demonstrations during Discover the Homestead Farm on Sunday afternoons from 1-5pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
In March, the Sugarhouse springs to life as we process maple sap into sweet maple syrup. Wander through the woods, peeking in buckets, then come to the Sugarhouse where volunteer evaporators boil down the sap into syrup. Stop by on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 1:30-4:30pm in March as a staff member walks you through the process.
Native Americans have lived along the banks of the Pine and Chippewa Rivers for hundreds of years. This reconstructed wigwam located near the Visitor Center is made with a tamarack frame covered with white cedar bark and shows a typical home a Native American family in this area would have used hundreds of years ago. Watch for programs highlighting seasonal activities and skills such as cordage and firemaking.
Get your hands-on nature by pumping water, building forts and stump-jumping across puddles in “The Woods,” a nature play area open to explorers of all ages. Located just off Arbury Trail, this space provides a natural setting for creative, unstructured outdoor play. Open from dawn-to-dark all year, visit often enjoying the changing conditions and play opportunities with each season. Check out the calendar for special play-based programs.
The Chippewa River can be accessed from the canoe/kayak universal access site just west of the main property along Chippewa River Road, as well as via the canoe/kayaklaunch along Homestead Road. There is also a universally accessible launch atCity of Midland’s site downriver at the Tridge on the Tittabawassee River.
Get a birds-eye view of the three Wetlands Area marshes from the Observation Tower. The lower level is accessible by ramp while the upper level is accessible by stairs. Ducks, geese, herons, beaver, muskrat and a variety of songbirds call the Wetlands home.
Address:400 S Badour Rd
Midland, MI 48640
Mon-Sat:8 am-5 pm
Sun & select holidays:12-5 pm
Closed:Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve & New Year's Day
Open daily dawn-to-dark