Hike Our Preserves (HOP!) is SWMLC’s hiking program that encourages kids to get fit while having fun outdoors.

Explore the woods, fields, and water at 10 different Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy preserves.
Get healthy while exploring nature with your kids!

Hike any 10 of these popular Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy preserves to complete the HOP! program – the first 50 participants to visit 10 HOP! preserves will receive a free gift from Jr. Rangerland!

Many thanks to Jr. Rangerland and our generous boardmembers for sponsoring SWMLC’s Hike Our Preserves program!

Let’s get started!

1. Register.

Registrations cost $7 per person and include a hiking stick (while quantities last). You may register online here. Registration is ongoing, so you can register at any time. If you registered last year but didn’t finish your hikes – no problem, you can roll your registration over to this year’s program at no additional cost. And, of course, if you already have a favorite hiking stick, you’re welcome to use that one!

2. Get a stick.

In the past, this program has included a hiking stick for each participant but, due to popular demand, we’re running low on them! Because our HOP hiking sticks are handmade by volunteers from invasive buckthorn shrubs harvested from our own preserves, it may take a little while before we have them back in stock.

In the meantime, we urge you and your kids to keep on hoppin’ (hikin’!) at our preserves, sending in your selfies, and collecting a unique medallion for each preserve you hike.

Want to show off those medallions but don’t have a stick? Make’ em into a necklace! You can easily create a very cool necklace out of cord (satin, leather, or fake leather) and small jump rings – stuff that’s inexpensive and available at most craft stores. Here’s a link to a video that shows a super-simple way to make sliding knots, so the necklace can be whatever length you want.

We would also love to hear your ideas about how to display your medallions! Tag us on Instagram with #HOPSwmlc or send us an email to share your creativity!

Please check back to see when sticks will again be available for pick up at these participating libraries: 

  Antwerp Sunshine Library, Mattawan
  Bangor Branch Library
  Bloomingdale Branch Library
  Covert Branch Library
  Gobles Branch Library
  Hastings Public Library

  Lawrence Branch Library
  Marcellus Township Wood Memorial Library
  Nottawa Township Library

  Parchment Community Library
  Paw Paw District Library
  Portage District Library
  Richland Community Library
  Schoolcraft Community Library

  South Haven Memorial Library
  Webster Memorial Branch Library, Decatur

3. Take a hike!

Explore the trails at any 10 of these popular Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy preserves. Find directions, maps, and other information about each preserve by clicking on its name in the list:

1. Black River Preserve

2. Bow in the Clouds Preserve

3. Chipman Preserve

4. Hidden Marsh Sanctuary

5. Hidden Pond Preserve

6. Kesling Nature Preserve

7. Pilgrim Haven Natural Area

8. Portman Nature Preserve

9. Spirit Springs Sanctuary

10. Wau-Ke-Na, William Erby Smith Preserve, North Tract
Please note: you may walk either the North or South Tracts, but only one medallion design is available for both.

11. Wau-Ke-Na, William Erby Smith Preserve, South Tract
Please note: you may walk either the North or South Tracts, but only one medallion design is available for both.

12. Wolf Tree Nature Trails

4. Send us a selfie from the preserve.

Show us what a great time you’ve had by taking a photo at the end of your hike and emailing it to us! 

Please note that by submitting your photos, you give us permission to use them in print and electronic media. Images will not be identified using full names without written approval from the individual. But if you do not want us to use your photos for these purposes, you may opt out on the registration form.

5. Get a medallion.

We will send you a special medallion to put on your walking stick for each preserve that you finish!

6. Get a gift from Jr. Rangerland

The first 25 participants to complete walks at all ten preserves will receive a gift from Jr. Rangerland Educational Publishing. Choices include puzzles, books, games, water bottles, and more!

7. Get fit while having fun outdoors!

The added benefit? You’re stronger and healthier! And now that you know the trails, you can take your friends on a hike!

things to know
Our public preserves do not have bathrooms.

Because our staff is small and our service area covers nine counties, we are unable to maintain restrooms at any of our public preserves (except for Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, where portajohns are maintained by SHARA) . Please be sure to “take care of business” before you begin your hike for the comfort and safety of you and your kids!

Dog Policy

Dogs are welcome at SWMLC’s public preserves but must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times. Ground-nesting birds are upset by loose dogs and may abandon their eggs and babies if disturbed. In addition, children, adults, and leashed dogs that are using the trails may feel threatened when approached by a loose dog. Also, please be sure to clean up after your pet and remove the waste to ensure the best experience for the next folks. Thank you for helping to keep our nature preserves a safe haven for people and animals alike.


HOP! is a self-directed, go-at-your-own speed program without “official” hiking events. Instead, we encourage you and your kids to visit our preserves on your own and hike the trails at your own pace.

Welcome to the HOP Selfie Gallery!

Just a sampling of the hundreds of selfies we’ve received.

Add your face to the gallery by uploading your photos to Instagram using the hashtag #hopswmlc or by emailing us!

Brought to you by SWMLC in partnership with Jr. RangerLand.

Jr. RangerLand
P.O. Box 115
Hastings, Michigan 49058
Find Jr. RangerLand on Facebook!