Sometimes a body just wants needs to run in nature.

We’ve recently mapped out trail running loops at two of our most popular preserves, Wolf Tree Nature Trails in Oshtemo and Chipman Preserve in Galesburg. These new 5k courses offer a refreshing and fun way to reach running, walking and fitness goals. Give ’em a try!

“These 5k courses give walkers and runners a chance to exercise in a beautiful, natural setting, without having to worry about vehicles, exhaust, crosswalks or stoplights . . . while experiencing all the cool things nature has to offer,” says Stewardship Specialist Mitch Lettow. As a trail-runner himself, Mitch often runs at the Chipman Preserve and Wolf Tree Nature trails because he loves the invigorating feeling of running outdoors, and relishes the possibility of seeing a fox or an owl while experiencing the changing landscape along the way. The presence of roots, rocks, and the constant change in trail surface demand a heightened awareness for the trail runner — compared to running on the street — while gaining well-rounded exercise for joints, tendons, and muscles in the process.


Wolf Tree Nature Trails is one of SWMLC’s newer preserves, and plays an important role in Oshtemo Township’s Recreation and Open Space Plan. It is located near the intersection of West KL Avenue and 4th Street, and boasts approximately 70 acres of rolling woodland and prairies. It is named for the “wolf trees” — big, old trees with low-spreading limbs (frequently oaks) — that are present in the preserve and harken back to the oak savannas that once dominated this region. The 5k course at Wolf Tree consists of three 1.7 km loops that offer good elevation changes for those who are building strength and endurance, training for hilly courses, or just enjoy the added challenge.
Chipman Preserve is located on East Main Street in Galesburg, approximately 3 miles east of Sprinkle Road. Chipman offers over 200 acres of oak savanna, rolling prairie, and woodlands. As SWMLC’s largest preserve in Kalamazoo County, it offers over 7 total miles of trails for folks to enjoy, and now features a clearly marked course for anyone interested in running 5k or even 10k through the preserve.
“We hope that everyone, from the serious trail-runner to the Girls on the Run parent who is training to run with their daughter at the 5k in May, will find in these courses a great way to stay motivated and enjoy getting outdoors more often” expressed Lettow. “SWMLC preserves are not only here to protect wildlife, scenic views, water quality, and the environment in general, but they are also here for people to just enjoy being in nature.”
The courses at both preserves are marked with white pin-flags and distance markers, and maps are posted at the trailheads. You may also download a 5k course map here: