Access: open to the public
County: Van Buren
Trails: One mile of easy trails and boardwalk through grassland, forest edge, and wetlands to lake.
From M-43 just east of Bangor, head north on County Road 215 to the blinking light in Breedsville. Turn east at the light onto County Road 380, and go 2.5 miles. Continue straight ahead onto a gravel driveway and park in front of the yellow gate to your right in the yard. The preserve entrance is just beyond the gate.
The preserve contains three main areas of habitat: fen, wet forest, old field. The fen is a marl flat with a variety of fen vegetation including pitcher plants, sundews, and an outstanding display of marsh blazing star. Of particular interest is a white form of swamp thistle. The wetlands of Jeptha Lake are home to State listed reptiles and amphibians: Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes, spotted turtle, Blanchard’s cricket frog. The wet forest is relatively young, with seasonal pools that support several different species of frogs. The old field runs from wet to dry and supports a wide variety of bird species with some grassland species such as bobolinks and Eastern meadowlarks. The picnic area along the lakeshore contains a variety of large trees including black gum and tulip.
Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy acquired this preserve in an effort to protect the high-quality wetlands found along the shores of Upper and Lower Jeptha Lakes. The high alkalinity and low nutrients of the spring-fed fens support showy and unusual wildflowers, such as pitcher plants and marsh blazing stars. A boardwalk allows visitors close-up views of this wetland system preventing wet feet while protecting the fragile soils of the fen.
In addition to fens, this preserve has a narrow strip of rich wet forest and large old fields with seasonal pools that are home to a variety of wildlife, including some unusual grassland birds such as bobolinks and savanna sparrows. In all, 148 species of wildflowers, 97 species of birds, 26 species of butterflies, eight species of frogs, and all sorts of other wildlife and plants have been found at Jeptha Lake Fen.
“Jeptha Lake Fen has the best display of blazing stars I’ve ever seen. The thousands of purple stalks with butterflies everywhere is an inspiring experience. And with our boardwalk, it is available for everyone to see.” — Nate Fuller, Conservation and Stewardship Director.