Nature Notes – Places

Trillium Ravine Preserve

by Jill McDonald
Trillium Ravine Preserve, Photo by Jill McDonald

Imagine stepping into a peaceful forest where the trees are just starting to bud out their tiny, tender leaves. Before you is a trail that has been lovingly trod upon, as indicated by the single path only wide enough for one person at a time. However, do not worry, as the trail is not overgrown. Instead, let your eyes soak in the beauty that surrounds you—wildflowers carpeting the springtime forest! Trilliums abound!! 

The forest is awakening, as it does every spring. Before the trees burst out their canopy of leaves, which block much light from the forest floor, spring ephemerals put on an ever-changing show! Spring ephemerals refer to perennial plants that emerge quickly in spring during their favorable growing conditions and have a short growth and reproductive stage. Witnessing the changes week by week seems truly magical!

Nestled in a nearly 15 acre preserve, this habitat gem is located just four miles northeast of downtown Buchanan. This forest sanctuary seems to come to life in full glory near the end of April to mid-May when melodies of birds fill the air and trillium flowers burst into full bloom!!

Trillium in Bloom, Photo by Jill McDonald
Trillium in Bloom, Photo by Jill McDonald

Walking among the preserve is such a peaceful and calming experience anytime of the year. This mature aged forest is filled with mixed deciduous trees, situated along a deep glacial ravine. 

The preserve has a single loop trail, clearly marked by simple blue triangle markers, so no need to worry about getting lost. Walking at a steady pace, you can enjoy the trail in 20-30 minutes. However, I’d recommend allowing at least a bit more time to soak it all in.

Fortunately, this preserve is made possible for anyone to enjoy as the result of a donation by the Malcolm S. Ross and Robert C. Upton partnership. On February 15, 1983, The Michigan Nature Association (MNA) acquired Trillium Ravine. 

As noted on MNA’s website, “The men originally intended to include the property in a subdivision they were building, but Erich Bruegmann noticed the beautiful ravine while driving one day and brought it to MNA’s attention.”

When visiting a preserve, be mindful and tread gently to protect the habitat and its wildlife. Also everyone who desires to enjoy the preserve can do so, now and in the future. Please do not pick the wildflowers or collect any plants. Please stay on the trails. Simply respect the sanctuary.

Google Aerial Map, Trillium Ravine Preserve

To get there: On Walton Road, turn south at the first road east of the bypass onto E. Geyer Road, which will become Riverside Road. Be respectful with your driving, as you’ll be going through a neighborhood. From Walton Road, it is almost one mile to the preserve. If you reach farmland, you have just passed it. Parking is simply pulling off to the side of the road. Signage informs you about the preserve. 

For more information about the Michigan Nature Association, visit their website at: You can also call the MNA office at (866) 223-2231. You can learn about their other sanctuaries throughout Michigan and the many ways to support their efforts.

May you seek and enjoy this marvelous season of spring! 🙂

Trillium Ravine Preserve, Photo by Jill McDonald

Jill K. McDonald is a freelance nature & travel educator, writer, photographer, and speaker. She can be reached by email at or connect with her on Facebook at:

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