Access: open to the public
Acquisition: Donated by Dr. Peter Kesling & Family, 2004
Township: Three Oaks
Trails: A popular preserve for bird watching, Kesling has 1.25 miles of easy, forested trails along the banks of the Galien River.
From I-94, take exit 4A onto US-12 East. Go about 2.5 miles east on US-12 and turn south onto Basswood Road. Go 1.5 miles south on Basswood Road and turn west onto Forest Lawn Road. Follow Forest Lawn Road about .75 miles. The preserve is on the north side of the road, just east of the bridge over the South Branch of the Galien River.
The preserve protects both sides of a quarter mile of the South Branch of the Galien River as it flows through the preserve. It contains a floodplain forest and very scenic steep ravine along a tributary with rich mesic forest. Forested areas contain a diversity of trees and spring wildflowers including State-listed prairie trillium, sessile trillium, and Jacob’s ladder. It is one of the best bird watching sites in the county during spring migration and is a nesting site for State-listed yellow-throated warbler, Louisiana waterthrush, and cerulean warbler. It is a potential nesting site for State-Listed hooded warbler and red-shouldered hawk. It also has State-listed box turtle.
The South Branch of the Galien River is a popular fishing destination as trout and salmon make their runs from Lake Michigan. During the right time of the year, giant steelhead are a common site in the shallow waters of the river.
Three Oaks Township owns property adjacent to the Kesling Nature Preserve and complimentary trail systems are being developed to provide access to additional surrounding natural areas, combining to protect nearly 100 acres dedicated to conservation.