BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (Michigan Back Roads) – When you travel south of Hastings, west of Charlotte or north of Battle Creek and, after a gorgeous drive on old Cloverdale Rd., you will find the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute.

It boasts 600-plus acres of trails, nature areas and wildlife. Protected from development, there are wetlands, Brewster Lake, and a 150-foot-deep ravine that was formed by glacial activity. Enjoy a wide variety of upland habitats: created prairie, fallow fields, young second growth forests, and mature forest such as beech-maple, oak and hickory. Since purchasing the property in 1998, the Institute has converted over 70 acres of field into native, tallgrass prairie.

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The wetland habitats found on the property are quite diverse, including tamarack swamp forests, white cedar swamp forests (among the southernmost known in Michigan), mixed hardwood swamp forests, shallow and deep marsh wetlands, many acres of prairie fen and a spring-fed trout stream. The miles of trails are perfect for hiking and cross-country skiing. This is a place that values silence, it’s a quiet place, no motors allowed; even dogs are prohibited.

Virtually the entire watershed of Brewster Lake lies within the preserve. The lake is one of the more pristine lakes in the region, notable for its lack of non-native aquatic plants and its completely natural fauna of fish species. The institute does include full facilities, educational services, and a gift shop.