A Special Place in Sharon Hollow – Nan Weston Preserve
Park – Overview
The Nan Weston Preserve, near Manchester, MI, is a 248-acre parcel owned by the Nature Conservancy. The preserve lies in the River Raisin adjacent to the Sharon Mills County Park.
In an area highly altered by agriculture, logging, and development. The Nan Weston Preserve serves to protect the remaining native ecosystems and provide a stopover habitat for migrating birds.
The preserve features a trail system with several loops traveling through a native oak and hickory forest. The trails are often muddy and in places raised boardwalks have been constructed to allow passage.
The preserve is especially beautiful in both the spring and fall seasons. In the spring there is a vast array of wildflowers, including huge areas of large-flowered trilliums. In the fall, the forest turns to gold with the autumn leaves filling the trees and covering the forest floor.
- Scenery – 5
- Trail Condition – 3
- Quiet/Solitude – 5
- Difficulty – 2
- Overall – 4.5
- Path walked – 2.28 miles
- Difficulty – Medium
- Trail – Packed Earth
- Accessibility – See Below
- Dogs Allowed – No
- Bikes Allowed – No
Location – Sharon Township (see map below)
Gear Suggested – Daypack, Water Bottle, Waterproof Boots, Long Pants & Sleeves
The trail begins on the south side of the parking lot and heads immediately into the forest. This area gives a great first impression of what lies ahead, however, after a few hundred feet, the trail crosses a meadow under some high-power lines that remind you how important it is to preserve a place like this.
Once across the meadow, the trail dives back into the woods and heads towards the River Raisin. The path crosses many small streams, sometimes taking to raised walkways to keep your feet out of the mud and out of a fragile ecosystem.
On the fall day that I walked this forest, the ground was completely covered with a quilt of yellow and red leaves. Fortunately, the trail is well blazoned because, at times, it was hard to tell where the path was going. I admit to getting off trail a few times, but easily corrected it when I found the next blazon.
After a while, the path comes to the River Raisin shore. The water is slow here because of the Sharon Mill millpond just downstream. I thoroughly enjoyed the picturesque scene there with the autumn leaves slowly drifting by on the river’s surface.
The walk back to the car gave me a chance to really take a closer look and enjoy the details of the autumn landscape here at the preserve. The mix and variety of the trees in the woodland made for an incredible show of fall colors. I know that I want to come back here in the spring to see the flowers burst from that same forest floor and start the cycle again.
The Nan Weston Nature Preserve is a beautiful natural area that allows you to really understand what the native forests of the River Raisin watershed looked like before the modern era. It’s a pleasant walk in a place that has, with the help of many, withstood the passing of time.
Max elevation: 945 ft
Min elevation: 909 ft
Below are some of the sights we found while walking that day.
Leave No Trace and Obey The Park Rules
- Always leave no trace, pack out everything you take in. We suggest that you bring an empty bag with you so you can pack out your trash and remove any that you see along the way.
- Stay on marked trails. Straying into the undergrowth can damage delicate ecosystems.
- Parks and preserves are surrounded by private lands. Please be respectful of property boundaries and stay inside the public land.
- Let someone know where you are going. Some areas have limited or no cell service, so if you get stuck you may not be able to call for help.
- Read the notes, warnings, and information provided at the park readerboard/kiosk. There may be closed trails or special seasonal information.
- Respect the no bikes, no dogs, and no horses rules. These are posted and may be updated at any time.
- Respect wildlife and nature. Do not approach or disturb animals or birds living in the area.
- Leave only footprints – Take only pictures.
For more information on Leave No Trace – see LNT.org
Nature Conservancy Video
Spotlight on Nature: Nan Weston Nature Preserve
Where is this?
The Nan Weston Preserve is located just east of the intersection of Easudes Rd and Jacob Rd in Sharon Hollow, MI (near Manchester)
|Address||Easudes Road at Jacob Road, |
Manchester, MI 48158
|Trail Length||3 Mile Loop (estimate)|
|Highlights||The natural areas are completely filled with interesting birds and plants|
|Access||Unpaved Parking Lot|
|Accessibility||The trail is a basic dirt trail with narrow boardwalks and many stairs. Footing is difficult at times and may not be appropriate for people who need assistance walking.|
|Website||Nan Weston Preserve|
|Map||Nan Weston Preserve Trail Map|
|Best time to visit||Fall and Spring|