Access: open to the public
Acquisition: Donated by the Wong family, 1998
County: St. Joseph
Township: City of Three Rivers
Parking: gravel lot
Trails: 2/3 mile of easy, forested trails along the banks of Portage River and Hoffman Pond.
From US-131, turn east onto Hoffman Road at Three Rivers. Turn left (east) and go 0.8 miles to Buckhorn Road (four-way stop). Turn right and go south 2.5 miles. Buckhorn becomes Portage Road, and you will see a big preserve sign on the left (east) side, near 1501 Portage Road
.The preserve has a great diversity of woody species along the banks and floodplain of the Portage River as it flows into Hoffman Pond. A resident beaver occasionally thins the trees near Hoffman Pond. A line of Osage orange marks a historic fence line. A few other ornamental trees including Japanese spindle tree a remnants of a historic nursery. It can be a very productive birding spot. The floodplain forest and river’s edge are fairly healthy though purple loosestrife is common in marshy areas.
Due to its accessibility and scenic views, Hidden Marsh Sanctuary may be SWMLC’s most visited preserve. Easy walking trails lead visitors to overlooks of Hoffman Pond where, with careful observation, one may spot a beaver’s lodge. The trail continues down to the banks of the Portage River where numerous small stumps show the evidence of the beavers at work.
Loop trails lead through woodlands with canopies of maple, oak, and ash and an understory of flowering dogwood, witch hazel, and young hickory and sassafras, back to the parking lot. Numbered signposts along the trail refer to a trail guide, providing natural and historical insights into the preserve. (Trail guides are available from the SWMLC office upon request).
The wetlands in Hidden Marsh Sanctuary offer homes to ducks, herons, turtles, frogs, beavers, muskrats, and many other animals. Foxes, coyotes, rabbits, and groundhogs make their homes in the upland areas of the preserve while grosbeaks, woodpeckers, and orioles nest in the trees above.