BUCHANAN, Mich. (Michigan Back Roads) – Berrien County in Southwest Michigan is famous for blueberries, wineries, rivers, and mills. What is less known, and often overlooked even by the locals, is the park-like Trillium Ravine.
Amazingly, this trillium wonderland is just a few miles from Buchanan. It is easily accessible and is home to a couple of rare wild flowers. The area is a mixed beech-maple woodland; and even though it is now nearly surrounded by a housing development, it is home to two species of toad trilliums at the northern limit of their range – the prairie trillium and a species of wood poppy that only occurs in Michigan’s southwestern counties.
Less than a mile from the busy I-31, the 14-plus acre ravine site is nestled between housing developments that have grown up. As you wind around the roads, you will finally see a small sign announcing the ravine as provided by the Michigan Nature Association.
When you enter the forest, it is very open and makes for an easy walk. There are sugar maples, basswood, ironwood, and red oak as well as mature beech trees. By about the first of May, the ground is a riot of wildflowers so thick you can hardly avoid stepping on them. Just a few yards from the road you will find the ravine itself. I estimate it is roughly 150 yards long, 40 yards wide and 20 to 30 feet deep. The walls are simply covered with trilliums as well as, May Apples, trout lily and tons of blue violets. There are narrow pathways so you can wander around without trampling the flowers.
This is a wild place, and the sides of the ravine can be slippery. There is no formal parking lot. The reserve is surrounded by private property. Please respect the boundaries and take out what you take in. Trilliums only bloom for a short time so the trip needs to be late April to mid-May.