Fritillary Butterfly at Ross Preserve Fritillary butterfly enjoying wildflowers at Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve. © Jason Whalen/Big Foot Media

Places We Protect

Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve


Why Is This Preserve Significant?

The Ross Preserve features many different habitat types, including coastal plain marshes, wet meadows, sand dunes, wooded inland dunes, wetlands, small lakes and northern hardwood forests.

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

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.

What can I see?

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.

More than 100 bird species are known to nest in the shrubs and trees here throughout the year, with spring and fall migrations bringing songbirds, warblers and waterfowl such as rose-breasted grosbeaks, American coots, mallards and common yellowthroat warblers.

The preserve also features a diverse array of plants including wet meadow species such as tall Coreopsis, round-leaved sundew, Joe Pye-weed, the nodding ladies’ tresses orchid and the rare Virginia meadow-beauty as well as upland species such as spring beauty and hepatica. There is also a wide assortment of tree species including eastern hemlock, sugar maple, sassafras and black cherry.

Because this preserve is one of the larger unfragmented woods in southern Michigan, it provides important habitat for many bird species, especially during spring and fall migration. Many species can be observed in the mix of habitats found at Ross. Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen as well as sturdy walking shoes or boots, and bring bug repellent.

The Nature Conservancy allows hunting for white-tail deer on this preserve to reduce an unnaturally high deer population in the area and reduce threats too many deer pose to our conservation targets. All hunters are required to receive a permit from the Conservancy as well as a Michigan deer hunting license. Additionally, hunters must report any deer taken from the preserve.     

Trail Map

Permitted Activities:

  • Foot access for hiking, snowshoeing, bird watching, etc.
  • Educational studies
  • Geocaching
  • Firearm and bow hunting with a Conservancy-issued permit for whitetail deer

Prohibited Activities:

  • No Motorized and non-motorized vehicles
  • No Pets
  • No hunting or trapping without a Conservancy-issued permit
  • No removal of plants or animals (alive or dead)
  • No removal of rocks, water or other non-organic materials
  • No camping, bonfires, fireworks or other fires
Spotlight on Nature: Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve