Sugarwood Forest Preserve

Access: Open to the public

Acreage: 40.25 acres

Recreational Activities: Hiking, spring blooms, summer flowers, fall colors, wildlife viewing, and Kindness Rocks.

Directions: Located at 6855 W Elm Valley Road in Three Oaks, MI. From Three Oaks Road travel west on Elm Valley Road 1/3 mile to the preserve entrance. From Red Arrow Highway, travel east on Union Pier Road/Elm Valley Road, approximately 4 miles to the entrance. Click here for a link to Google Maps. 

Parking: A gravel parking area is located at the entrance to the preserve.

Natural Features

The 40-acre property features a beech-maple forest towering above scenic ravines containing multiple forks of a Galien River tributary stream. The northern end of the property includes an extension of the old growth, or climax, forest area found in the State Park. At the southern end of the Preserve, an agricultural field is being converted to native prairie. The rest of the forested property contains mid-successional mesic southern forests in various stages of regrowth after a history of agricultural use. A hiking trail system spans the property with loops around the prairie and through the forest.


George and Andrea Platz, long-time supporters of Chikaming Open Lands, bought the property from the Drier family in 1981. In the time since, the family enjoyed the property as a weekend retreat, exploring the woods and communing with nature. In 2020, wanting to forever preserve the property, George and Andrea offered to sell their west 40-acre parcel to Chikaming Open Lands at a significant reduction from market value. COL was awarded an $80,000 challenge grant from The Carls Foundation and received donations from more than 100 individuals and organizations to acquire the property. The name “Sugarwood” comes from one of the Platz family's many activities on the property: tapping maple trees and making maple syrup.

Pictured to the right is the winner of our 2022 #COLfallphotos contest.