Access: open to the public
Acquisition: With assistance from Enbridge Energy, in Partnership with US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Conservation Fund, US Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program, USDA Forest Service Community Forest Program, The Carls Foundation, The Burdick Thorne Foundation, The H.P. and Genevieve Connable Fund, Nancy Malcomson Connable Fund, Gerald and Julie Portman, and over 350 individual and organizational donors from the community, SWMLC raised the $2.2 million needed to complete this project.
County: Van Buren
Township: Almena & Antwerp
Parking: gravel lot
Trails: Featuring signed, scenic, easy-to-moderate hiking trails that cross a natural causeway between two lakes, gently climb through upland forest, then gently descend to a boardwalk (still under construction at this time of writing) that offers interesting views into a fen wetland. Future plans include a barrier-free loop trail, lake viewing platform, and more.
Portman Nature Preserve is a HOP! preserve. Click here to find out more about our new hiking program for kids!
Download the free Avenza Map App to interact with our trail maps on your phone. You will be able to view your location, record GPS tracks, add placemarks, and more. Of course, our trail maps are also printable!
Directions to Portman Nature Preserve
(click on the map for a printable PDF version)
• From I-94 take the Mattawan Exit (# 66) and head north (right) from the traffic circle onto Main Street. Head north for 1 mile to reach Red Arrow Highway, then turn left (west).
• Go west for 1.5 miles, then turn right (north) onto 27th Street (look for Owsiany Farm Stand on the corner).
• Continue traveling north for 0.75 mile, then turn left (west) onto 49th Avenue.
• Go about 0.75 mile to the preserve entrance on the right/north side of the road (just west of the old white farm house at #28534).
189 acres of rolling hills, upland oak forest, fen and marshland, three spring-fed lakes, and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. There are nearly 2 miles of marked hiking trails, with a universal access trail planned for 2019.
Located near Mattawan, just minutes from Kalamazoo and Paw Paw, Portman Nature Preserve boasts 189 acres of high-quality prairie fen, wetland, savanna and woodland habitats, and is blessed with water from 3 lakes, a creek, and hundreds of springs. It is home to an astounding number of rare, threatened, and endangered plant and animal species, including 447 plants, 20+ mammals, 107 birds, 24+ reptiles and amphibians, 35 butterflies . . . and we’re still counting the other insects! As a result of its rich biodiversity, this property has been identified by the conservation community as a priority for conservation for over 10 years.
In addition to its rare habitats and species, Portman Nature Preserve forms part of the headwaters of the Paw Paw River, making it essential to maintaining clean, abundant water for the Paw Paw River watershed, the broader region, and Lake Michigan.
Trail Descriptions (distances are one-way)
Three Lakes Trail, 1 mile: The most direct route through the preserve, this trail crosses the causeway between Mud and Cedar Lakes, lingers in a small remnant savanna, climbs a gentle hill through oak forest, then gradually drops down to the shores of Lime Lake.
Look for A variety of oaks, American columbo (rare plant), Baltimore orioles, dragonflies, and spiny softshell turtles.
Mud Lake Approach, 1/10 mile: Your first opportunity to see one of the lakes on the preserve. Approach the viewing
platform quietly and you may be rewarded by the sight of a heron stalking prey in the shallows or seeing a tree swallow carry a feather to its nest in the dead trees standing in the lake.
Look for Black cherry trees, water lilies, trillium, wood ducks, belted kingfishers, green frogs, and painted turtles.
Fern Trail, 1/3 mile: This trail heads up through dry woodland with bracken fern and ebony spleenwort, then skirts the edge of the Lime Lake wetlands that are rich with cinnamon, royal, and many other ferns. If you find a box turtle, be sure to take a picture of its shell and share it with SWMLC!
Look for Silver maples, many different ferns, wild turkeys, red-backed salamanders, and Eastern box turtles.
Hickory Ridge Loop, 1/3 mile: This fairly steep loop leads one up to a high peninsula – with inspiring views down into the surrounding wetlands – and then back around the edge of a primeval swamp (fondly referred to as Dagobah Swamp).
Look for Shagbark hickories, hepatica, pileated woodpeckers, fox squirrels, and wood frogs.
Lime Lake Boardwalk, 1/10 mile: The boardwalk offers a rare opportunity to explore prairie fen and shrub carr wetlands without getting your feet wet – or disturbing this delicate habitat. Scan the shoreline and you may spot a family of sandhill cranes hunting the wet meadows.
Look for Tamaracks, Michigan holly, pitcher plants, sedge hummocks, Baltimore checkerspot butterflies, and map turtles.
Universal Access Trail (future): This future loop trail will provide a stable surface for those using strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs so that everyone will be able to enjoy the woods, views, and solitude of Portman Nature Preserve.
Spring Pond (future): In the future, this viewing station will provide visitors with an opportunity to watch small springs “boiling” out of the bottom of a small pond.
See and hear the passion behind this project . . .
Watch “The Incredible Biodiversity of Portman Nature Preserve”, the third in a 3-part series produced specially for SWMLC by Rhino Media of Kalamazoo.