GT Natural Education Reserve

The Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve provides 6 trails & several launch sites to explore pristine natural areas of the Boardman River corridor.
"Within this 505-acre natural area are a marsh, swamp, level terrain, upland forest, pine forest, creek, river, and an active beaver pond. The cover types of the area provide excellent habitat for beaver, otter, mink, fox, deer, and many other animals and birds. The Boardman River runs through the property and is the central feature of the reserve."

The Grand Traverse Conservation District manages this parkland & is headquartered at the Boardman River Nature Center, where visitors discover why this treasured river is the crown jewel of Grand Traverse County.
"Built in 2008 on the banks of the Boardman River on the Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve, the Boardman River Nature Center is your gateway to the natural world. The Nature Center offers an interpretive gallery with live animals and rotating exhibits that change with the seasons. The displays encourage interaction and feature Michigan’s most interesting fauna and flora."
These are some of the prettiest river trails & less than 5 miles from downtown Traverse City. Hikers will find numerous viewing platforms, wooden boardwalks & bridges on trails along the Boardman River & several of its tributaries; the Lone Pine Trail is barrier-free.

Visitors can launch canoes or kayaks to explore the reserve from the river at all trail-heads except the Beaver Pond Trail & the Boardman Pond Trail. Guided tours are offered year-round in addition to numerous educational events. There are also some good swimming holes for cooling off on hot days.

Leashed dogs are welcome; bikes are only allowed on marked trails. Restrooms are available at the Nature Center and at the Y.M.C.A. & there is a seasonal, vault toilet at Beitner Park.


Trail-Head Parking Areas

Boardman Valley Trail - (easy, 1.3 miles) parking at the Y.M.C.A. off S Airport Rd. (this trail is actually located within the Boardman Valley Nature Preserve & connects to the Fox Den Trail)

Fox Den Trail (easy, .6 mi) & Sabin Pond Trail (moderate, .8 mi) can be accessed at the Nature Center, located at 1450 Cass Rd. (just south of the railroad tracks at the curve)

Beaver Pond Trail (moderate, .7 mi) & Boardman Pond Trail (easy, .75 mi) can be accessed at the 1-lane bridge (Boardman Dam) on Cass Rd (just west of Keystone Rd). There are parking lots on both sides of Cass Rd. (NOTE: Cass Rd, the river & parts of these 2 trails are temporarily closed until Sept 2016)

Lone Pine/Keystone Rapids Trails (easy & moderate, 2.3 mi) consists of several loop trails & out-and-back trails that can be accessed from 3 trail-head parking areas on Keystone Rd; Lone Pine Trail-head (a barrier-free trail) is just south of Hoch Rd, Oleson Bridge Trail-head is just north of River Rd and Keystone Rapids Trail-Head is just south of River Rd; Beitner Park & canoe launch is across the street.
NOTE: Keystone Rd & Beitner Rd are the same road; the name changes at River Rd.

Trail map (pdf)

All original photographs & text Copyright © 2016 @TheBoardman

The Hacky Turtles "Take Me There" to Traverse City!