Ottawa County Parks & Recreation
Nature Education Center
Phone: (616) 786-4847
At Hemlock Crossing: 8115 West Olive Road, West Olive
From US 31, travel west on Croswell Street to West Olive Road. Turn south on West Olive Road and travel a 1/2 mile to the entrance on the west side.
The Nature Education Center hosts a variety of educational programs for schools, groups and the public.
Tuesday - Saturday: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Sunday: Noon - 5:00pm
You can also visit the center to see
- A Wildlife Den with live "critters" and loads of activities
- A Wildlife Viewing Area that attracts birds and mammals to feeders
- A gift shop
- Information on 6,400 acres of parks
School, Scout & Other Youth Programs
We believe children are born with an innate sense of wonder about the natural world! Using many senses, we help children unlock the mysteries of nature and science with hands-on, fun educational experiences.School programs enhance and build upon concepts children are learning in the classroom. Programs have also been designed for Scouts to complete their badge requirements. Custom designed programs are also available. Please ask Kristin Hintz for details.
Signs of Spring Nature Walks
Designed to follow the progression of the season, these walks focus on a variety of topics. The two hour walks for adults and families are cancelled if raining. Bring binoculars (if you have them), insect repellant and dress for the weather.
- Mushroom Hike: May 18, 10am, Pigeon Creek Park Lodge. Join this hike discovering mushrooms and fungi along the trails. The focus is not to collect but to identify and learn the fascinating history of fungi.
- Birding Hike: May 25, 9am, Riverside Park. Did you miss the International Migratory Bird weekend? While spring migration may be winding down, many species emerge in the final act! Search for these late migrants and practice your birding skills.
- Spring Butterflies: June 1, 2pm, Hemlock Crossing-Nature Education Center. After a brief indoor introduction, we will search for butterflies and other insects in the native grassland along the trails.
- Dune Nature Hike: June, 8, 2pm, Olive Shores. How do forests grow on sand? Explore the dunes, revealing the diversity living there.
Pigeon River Kayak Trips
These 3.5-mile kayak tours begin at Hemlock Crossing and end at Sheldon Landing. Return transportation to Hemlock Crossing is via carpool. Each trip includes a basic kayaking lesson. No experience is needed. The fee is $35 per person and includes a kayak, paddle and life jacket. There is limited space for those bringing their own kayak at $15 per person. Preregistration is required. A detailed letter will be sent after you register.
- May 8, 12:30pm - 4:30pm
- May 18, 12:30pm - 4:30pm
- May 21, 12:30pm - 4:30pm
- June 4, 9:30am - 1:30pm
Wednesday Morning Bird Walks
Spring is a great time to see birds and to learn about birding. These two hour walks for adults and older children will focus on finding and identifying a variety of birds at each park location. Cancelled if raining. Bring binoculars (if you have them), insect repellent and dress for the weather.
- May 8, 9am, Riverside Park
- May 15, 9am, Crockery Creek
- May 22, 9am, Rosy Mound Natural Area
International Migratory Bird Weekend
- Birding Hike: May 11, 9am, Pigeon Creek Park
- Birding Basics for Kids: May 11, 2pm, Hemlock Crossing-Nature Education Center. Kids (ages 8+) will be introduced to the basics of bird identification, using binoculars and how to use the most important tool they have-their ears! We will also spend time at the feeders and outdoors.
- Birding Hike: May 12, 9am, Hemlock Crossing
- Wonders of Migration: May 12, 1pm, Hemlock Crossing-Nature Education Center. How do birds travel thousands of miles without a map? Why do they do it? What perils do they encounter? Be amazed by the wonders of bird migration! A short bird hike will follow.
- "Big Day" Bird Trip: May 17, 7am-4pm, Various Locations. How many bird species can we find in Ottawa County in one day? Several county parks, as well as other locations in Ottawa County, will be searched for water birds, raptors, songbirds and more. There is no fee; however, preregistration is required. A state park vehicle permit may be required. A letter with details and meeting location will be sent in advance to those registered.
Spring Astronomy Programs & Sky Viewings
These programs, conducted by the Shoreline Amateur Astronomical Association, begin with an hour indoor program followed by a sky viewing (weather permitting). The indoor programs will be held rain or shine.For the outdoor viewing, telescopes will be provided. Bring a lawn chair, binoculars (if you have them) and dress to be outside. Programs are for adults and older children.
- Lunar & Solar Eclipses: May 18,8pm, Hemlock Crossing-Nature Education Center.Each year astronomers forecast at least two lunar and two solar eclipses. However, not all eclipses are visible geographically or in their entirety. Join us as we investigate the motion of the earth, the moon and the sun revealing fun facts about eclipses and their classification names.
First Time Camper Series
Have you ever wanted to camp but just didn’t know where to start or what to bring? This "Camping 101" series will give you some solid camping wisdom mixed with practical experiences so you can go out on your own in the future. Preregistration is required and space is limited to 20 people. You must attend all programs in the series to participate in the overnight camping weekend in July. A letter with details will be given out at the first session.
Parks Administration Office
12220 Fillmore St.
West Olive, MI 49460
8:00am - 5:00pm
Fax: (616) 738-4812
(888) 731-1001 ext.4810
General Park Hours*March 1 - October 15
7:00am - 10:00pm
October 16 - February 28
7:00am - 8:00pm