Submitted by: Laura Niemiec
Location: Off U.S. 12 (Hardings Grocery) at Nels Drive and Locust Street Hours: Open dawn to dusk Pet Friendly: No restrictions were noted but on a leash is probably best Parking: Two lots just off Locust Street in front of the baseball fields Restrooms: Yes, in parking areas Trail Length: 1.5 total miles
Blogger Thoughts: – A gem in the middle of a gem, if you have never visited Three Oaks, Michigan you definitely should go.
I have been to Three Oaks, Michigan many times – annually for a car show with my father, in the fall for the Apple Cider Century, and just to wander the little town and grab a bite to eat. However, it wasn’t until I was looking at the list of trails to cover for Dig the Dunes that I realized I had never been to Watkins Memorial Park and I hadn’t heard of Hoadley Nature Trail. After a morning hike at Chikaming Township Park and Preserve, I headed a few miles south to check it out. It is indeed a well-kept secret.
Upon a little research, I learned the trail is named for Glen Hoadley whose family once owned the property. Arriving at Watkins Memorial Park, I parked near the pavilion and walked the road between the baseball diamonds to the trailhead. The trailhead is prominently marked and also offers a brochure for the trail including a trail map.
My favorite part of the trail was the Schwark Drain Wetland area. I thoroughly enjoyed the lush vegetation, the wildflowers with their pops of color, and the butterflies that floated around in-between. The trail around the wetland is grassy and well manicured. The tall grassland hides most of the water from view unless you are on the east side of the trail but even then, it is only a glimpse. During this trip, the tall grasses camouflaged a deer that I startled as it in turn startled me by bounding out of the wetland and into the woods.
The woodland trail area has a multitude of native plants and trees, some with informative placards – my favorite was a giant Beech tree. Scattered in the woods are remnants of exercise stations that once lined the trails. As I wandered through the woods I was unsure of some of the trails, as they weren’t as well maintained as some of others.
Emerging from the woods and back to the wetlands I made it a point to loop back around one more time to get another look at all of the wildflowers along the trail.
Final note, bring bug spray! I note this as a disclaimer on all of my blogs, and for very good reason. Even though this a short trail, it is a wooded area and I found a tick on my sleeve when I got back into my Jeep.
You can read about many of the trails in the area right here!