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Places We Protect

Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve

Michigan

An orange and black butterfly sits on yellow wildflowers.
Fritillary Butterfly at Ross Preserve Fritillary butterfly enjoying wildflowers at Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve. © Jason Whalen/Big Foot Media

Forest Restoration at Ross Preserve

TNC has removed several stands of red pine on this preserve. The land had been planted in a monoculture by previous landowners many years ago. While red pine occurs naturally in Michigan, the habitat these crowded plantation rows created does not. Their removal will allow the growth of other native species.

Overview

Description

Coastal plain marshes are rare in the Great Lakes region; they are typically found only along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Out of all 42 coastal plain marshes in Michigan, this preserve boasts three of the highest quality.

As you explore more than five miles of trails, you are likely to encounter reptiles and amphibians around the coastal plain marshes and small ponds on the preserve. Keep an eye out for mammals such as red fox and coyote.

While hiking through this preserve, you may see one of the 100 bird species known to nest in the shrubs and trees here throughout the year, with spring and fall migrations bringing songbirds, warblers and waterfowl to the preserve.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Highlights

At 1,448 acres, Ross Preserve is a wonderfully diverse landscape of forested back-dunes, wetlands, ponds and rare coastal plain marshes. Perfect for hiking, birdwatching and cross-country skiing.

Size

1,448 acres

Explore our work in Michigan

Photos from Ross Coastal Plain Marsh

Tag your preserve visits on Instagram with #TNCMichigan to have your photos featured here!

Fungi grows in a mossy area
Brigh green mossy area in the shade of trees. In the distance is a sandy dune.
Sandy dunes surrounded by tress at Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve in Michigan.
A spring peeper rests on a branch at Ross Coastal.

Audio Tour

Explore the preserve via our free audio tour.

Take the Tour

Explore Via Audio Tour

Our guided audio tours include stories, fun facts, historical notes and natural sounds to help deepen your connection to the world. You can access the tour from the comfort of your home, or onsite as you hike.

This tour of Ross Coastal Plain Marsh follows a 3-and-a-half-mile route that loops through the southern two-thirds of the nearly 1,500-acre preserve. It has an option to add another 1-and-a-half-mile loop near the end. The middle part of our route has some rolling hills and is a moderately difficult walk. The rest is on a wide, flat dirt trail, and is not difficult.

Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve (2:35) Watch the seasons change at Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve in southwest Michigan.

Plan Your Visit

  • When to Visit

    This preserve is open year round. Spring and fall are the two best seasons to visit this preserve, as you'll likely be able to spot migratory birds and wildflowers.  

  • What to Bring

    Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen as well as sturdy walking shoes or boots, and bug repellent. Expect rugged, narrow and uneven terrain on natural pathways.

  • Trail Info

    This 5.3-mile loop trail is generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 1 h 53 min to complete.

    Trail Map

  • Permitted Activities
  • Prohibited Activities
    • No motorized and non-motorized vehicles, including bicycles
    • No pets
    • No building of new trails
    • No removal of trees, plants or animals (alive or dead)
    • No removal of rocks, water or other non-organic materials
    • No camping, bonfires, fireworks, or other fires
    • No littering
  • Hunting

    The Nature Conservancy allows hunting for white-tail deer on this preserve to reduce threats too many deer pose to our conservation targets and to ensure that the preserve does not become a “refuge” for deer during the hunting season.

    In order to be eligible to hunt at this preserve, hunters are required to receive a permit from TNC, follow TNC hunting program rules and comply with all local, state and federal laws and ordinances governing hunting activities, including obtaining all required government licenses or permits. For more information, please visit our Deer Hunting in Michigan page.

  • Questions?

    Have questions about the preserve? Contact Shaun Howard, TNC protected lands project manager in Michigan.

Tall trees at Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve.
Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Towering trees at Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve. © Jason Whalen/Big Foot Media

Background

Much of this preserve once served as a vacation spot for the Ross family. You can still see vestiges of their time spent here, including the foundation of their vacation house, overlooking one of many small lakes on the preserve.

Take a moment to see how many tree species you can identify on the preserve. This preserve features eastern hemlock, sugar maple, sassafras and black cherry to name a few.

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Keep Exploring

From shifting sand dunes to granite bald mountains, explore our preserves and reserves spread across the state of Michigan.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

See the Complete Map

Make a Lasting Impact

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