Plan your visit

See our trail map.

1750 East Beltline Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546-5649
Phone: (616) 526-7600

Cars may park in the cul-de-sac parking lot at the main entrance to the preserve as well as the designated Ecosystem Preserve spaces immediately north of our parking lot.

Walking trails are open to the public everyday from 7 a.m. until dusk.

Bunker Interpretive Center (BIC) hours

Monday–Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Closed weekends and holidays (Labor Day, Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas break, New Year's Eve and Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, and Independence Day)

Restrooms in the BIC vestibule are available everyday from 7 a.m. until dusk.

The public is welcome to explore the preserve and Bunker Interpretive Center for free.

We are pleased to provide our quality educational programs to the community for free or at reasonable rates.

Please walk only on designated trails, and leave everything as you found it (collecting is not allowed). No pets, large groups, loud activities, running, biking, skiing, snow-shoeing, ice skating, fishing, or smoking.

What to see

Native Gardens

Visit the native gardens surrounding the Bunker Interpretive Center, where 21 themed garden beds feature plants native to West Michigan. Stroll through the gardens to explore each of these small habitats, see our most popular natives in the Glasshouse, and relax under the arbor by South Pond.

The plants in our garden are better adapted to our environment than horticultural species. They do not require irrigation or fertilization. Thus, they help conserve water and limit the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Additionally, native plants are beneficial to birds, butterflies, and a variety of insects, by providing a good source of food and shelter. During the fall and winter, a variety of birds can be seen feeding on seed heads throughout our gardens. In the spring and summer, butterflies, bees, and other insects can be seen sipping on the nectar of these flowers.

Join us for our annual plant sale on May 13, 2023, and learn how you can incorporate native plants into your own garden.

Native Plant Sale
Walking trails

Come walk the woods, and enjoy God's amazing creation.

We invite you to explore the Ecosystem Preserve and its 44 acres of forest and wetlands accessible to the public. Over a mile of trails are available for wandering, taking in the beauty of each season, and discovering flora and fauna typical of West Michigan. The preserve is inhabited by 260 species of plants, including several trees approaching 250 years old and the smallest plant in the world, called watermeal. Numerous species of animals have been identified or reside in the preserve, including 18 species of amphibians and reptiles, 179 bird species (about 60 nest here), and 27 species of mammals.

To learn more about the natural history of the Preserve, check out our trail guide, and download our vertebrate checklist and vascular plant checklist of all the animals and plants that have been seen in the preserve.

Bunker Interpretive Center

Our award-winning Helen and Vincent Bunker Interpretive Center is LEED certified, and has a number of environmentally friendly features. We encourage you to stop in and check out our seasonal educational displays, view some Michigan frogs and turtles up close, read a storybook or two, star in your own puppet show, and visit with our friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Throughout the year, we offer a variety of educational programs and events for all ages. Please visit the programs & events page to see what we are currently offering.

A note to organizations/child care centers that would like to bring a group of more than 12 people to the Preserve

We do our best to accommodate a variety of groups and programs at the Preserve, but are limited by these guidelines:

  • Our primary mission is to preserve habitats, plants and animals indigenous to West Michigan. Therefore, a policy is in place to limit the number of Preserve visitors per day, trails are for walking (the preserve is not a sporting area), and picnicking is not permitted.
  • The Preserve is used for many different purposes at various times of the week (particularly for camps during the summer), therefore, we schedule its usage to avoid overlapping large group visits.

While exploring the preserve, please be mindful of our public use policies:

  • Guests must stay on trails and out of water bodies.
  • Trails are for hikers only. No running, biking, cross-country skiing or motorized vehicles.
  • Dogs are not welcome-leashed, carried, or otherwise.
  • The removal, disturbance or introduction of any plant, animal, or mineral is prohibited.
  • Avoid interfering with research projects and educational programs.
  • Smoking, consuming alcoholic beverages, and littering in the preserve are prohibited.
Photo Gallery