“A fantastic route through old growth beech and maple forest. The trail runs along the Galien River.
— Rafi Wilkinson
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Wildlife
The 311-acre Warren Woods State Park is a hidden gem in dunes country. This little-known park contains some of the last old growth trees in the region. While most visitors go to its sister park on Lake Michigan, Warren Dunes State Park, Warren Woods is worth seeking out.
Warren Woods is an easy route that follows the scenic Galien River. There is a nice bridge crossing the river and much of the trail has views of the river. The American beech, sugar maples and tulip poplar trees exceed 100 feet in height and over 5 feet in diameter. In the summer, the canopy can block out almost all the sunlight creating a great shady run.
For more information, visit the Michigan DNR's webpage
for Warren Woods.
Pets are permitted on a leash (6' or shorter). No bicycles or motorized vehicles. No fires or camping. Stay on designated trails. No picking or collecting of plants or animals.
Need to Know
There are two picnic benches and a vault toilet at the parking lot. There is no potable water source. The parking lot is closed in the winter. When closed, park on the street. Warren Woods Road, which runs along the north boundary, has room for parking on the shoulder.
Wear adequate footwear. Most of the trail surface is packed first with leaf litter. In the flood plain, it can be quite muddy or even impassible with standing water from the Galien River.
The trailhead at the parking lot is well-marked. The trail itself does not have markers, but this is not an issue as the trail is easy to follow. The first third of a mile is a wide path that winds through the forest. The trees get larger and larger as you approach the Galien River overlook. There are interpretive signs and benches. There is a commanding view of the river and the old growth forest. The trail continues down a set of stairs and across the bridge. Turn right immediately after the bridge and follow the singletrack foot path along the river. There are no trail markers and it can look like this is not the trail. Take it anyways. There are downed tress to step over and others to crouch under. The trail follows the river in the floodplain for roughly a third of a mile.
Next, the trail will climb up onto high country while still following the river. At the trail junction (which is unmarked), stay right. The forest is massive with with an airy understory. The trail widens again into an easy path. The path ends at the northern boundary. From here, return south along the path until the trail junction. Stay right and the trail will enter the flood plain again. You are now away from the river as you weave through vernal wetlands. The trail will take you back to the bridge. Cross the river, climb the stairs, and make your way back to the parking lot.
History & Background
E.K. Warren purchased the land in 1879. He was originally going to harvest the trees but changed his mind. This is the only climax beech maple forest remaining in the state of Michigan. E.K. Warren is the inventor of the feather bone corset.
Warren Woods was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1967.