Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Need to Know
The Ottawa Marsh is a regulated hunting area, a recreational bird-watching area, and a feeding area for waterfowl.
A great running trail as it is wide and flat.
Starting the trail in the parking lot and heading south in a clockwise direction will give you a trail about 1.5 miles long. The trail follows a wide and flat two-track that is bordered by red metal vehicle blocking gates. There are a few side tracks off the trail which may lead you onto private property, but if you continually veer to the right whenever the track takes a Y, you'll remain in the public natural area. The trail continues clockwise through the Oak Savanna habitats and crosses 126th Avenue.
Heading left or west for about 100 feet, on 126th Avenue, will bring you to a small parking area with another red metal vehicle blocking gate. Running past that gate and still continuing clockwise until you'll see Big Daily Bayou on the north, which is a gut or small creek off the Kalamazoo River. On the north side of Big Daily Bayou is the Ottawa Marsh, a farm unit of the Allegan State Game Area. Continuing clockwise on the trail will bring you to a third red metal vehicle blocking gate. Continuing past that gate will bring you to the parking lot from the back.
Flora & Fauna
Oak Savanna habitats are important to an array of wildlife species including wild turkey and white-tailed deer. This area looks like a natural grassland, broken by individual trees and clumps of trees with the presence of typical dry prairie type plants such as black oak, little blue-stem, Pennsylvania sedge, bird's-foot violet, ragwort, wild lupine (see image to left), hairy puccoon, and dwarf blazing star. These are fire adapted plants, and prescribed fire is one of the most important tools used to manage this natural community. The area is a wildflower viewer's paradise with color throughout the spring, summer and autumn. In late May and early June, the wild lupine creates great patches of purple-blue.
Expect a profusion of flowering dogwood, wild lupine, puccoon, birds foot violet, white trillium and prickly pear cactus. The most impressive of all the species, the American columbo, begins blooming in late June, but only in certain years.
Shared By: Lucy Murphy