Grand Beach Marsh Preserve
Located at Grand Beach Road and Deer Park Drive in Grand Beach, Grand Beach Marsh Preserve is comprised of multiple habitat types including a coastal plain marsh, oak forest, wet prairie, and sand prairie. Water levels in the wetland are directly connected to ground water as well as seasonal precipitation. In some years, water may fill the entire open area of the marsh; in others it may all but disappear. In the center of the wetland, there is an open pond-like depression. Surrounding the pond area is a wet prairie area well adapted to the fluctuating water levels of the wetland, thriving in both wet and dry conditions. On the lake side of the Preserve is the remnant of an old sand dune formed from windblown Lake Michigan sands. The dune is now colonized by red oak, red maple, and sassafras trees. Between the marsh and Grand Beach Road lies a strip of oak forest along with a small remnant sand prairie area.
This 11-acre gem is an outstanding example of a globally rare Central Coastal Plain Marsh. Found primarily along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, coastal plain marshes were formed on sand deposits left by glaciers in areas where shallow depressions reach groundwater. The marsh's wetland plant community, which is fostered by acidic, low-nutrient groundwater, is more common along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, but rare in Michigan.
This property was originally acquired by The Nature Conservancy in 1984 and designated as the Grand Beach Marsh Preserve. In 2009, The Nature Conservancy transferred the property to Chikaming Open Lands, which currently manages the preserve to protect the unique ecology of the marsh, and for educational and recreational uses.
A half-mile hiking trail loops through the woodland alongside the marsh. From Grand Beach Road, turn onto Deer Park Drive, where you will see the preserve on the left. Parking is available along the roadside. No bicycles or motorized vehicles. No Hunting. Leashed dogs are welcome. Please stay on marked trails.