Forest Primeval - Three Oaks, Michigan


foot bridgeThis walking trail winds through the only remaining old growth, climax beech-maple forest in lower Michigan. The trail is located in the 311 acre, Warren Woods State Park. The gigantic beech and maple trees that form the forest occupy 200 of those acres, sheltering one of the most beautiful walking trails in southwest Michigan. There are two ways to enter the forest, a small trail head north and the state park entrance south. Regardless of which you choose, there are about 3.5 miles of trails that loop along the Galien River. Near the center of the forest, a fine pedestrian bridge crosses the river connecting the two halves of the woods. The north approach to the bridge descends to the river. On the south side of the bridge, is an interpretive station with information and benches. There are 40 easy shallow steps, down the stairs to the bridge.

Visitors who enter from the State Park entrance on Elm Valley Road, will have a short drive to parking, and minimal facilities. The trail head is right at the parking area, and takes hikers straight into the forest, and some really good places for bird watching.

Those who enter from the north trail head, at Warren Woods Road, will immediately be surrounded by enormous beech and maple trees. The trail winds through the gigantic trees some of which are more than 100 feet tall, with a girth so great you can't get your arms all the way around, when you hug them. A short distance in, you come to a fork in the trail. Going left will take you on a somewhat rough track to the Galien River. The right fork is a gentler trail that also leads to the river right where the foot bridge is located.

No matter which pathway is chosen, one is nearly overwhelmed by the silent beauty of these majestic trees. The unusual of wildflowers on the ground, and the variety of birds in the canopy above, complete a nature experience, which is only possible in this last remaining beech-maple climax forest. This fantastic woodland is so little known that, even in the middle of summer, when rangers are turning people away from the dunes park, a few miles away on Lake Michigan, you might be the only hiker breathing the cool pure forest air.