There is so much to do at the Kalamazoo Nature Center! Please read some of the Frequently Asked Questions for planning a great day at KNC, information on wildlife, and more.

Please note: KNC does not accept injured or orphaned animals. Please visit the Michigan DNR for a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators here.

Visiting KNC

Admission includes access to the Visitor Center and to KNC grounds, including over 14 miles of trails! Here’s a quick list of just a few of the things to do on a trip to KNC:

  • Take lots of photos #knciswild
  • Explore the many exhibits inside our Visitor Center including live animals and taxidermy, art gallery, tropical Sun Rain Room, wildlife viewing station, hands-in early childhood activities, and more (some high-touch activities are off exhibit during COVID)
  • Shop in the Trailhead Gifts and Books Shop inside the Visitor Center
  • The Glen Vista Gallery has fresh, new art exhibits by local and regional artists
  • Say “hello” to our Birds of Prey outside the Visitor Center
  • Check in at the Guest Services desk for information on scavenger hunts and geocaching
  • Pick up a Naturalist Back Pack at the Guest Services Desk with everything you need for an adventure along KNC trails
  • Hike over 14 miles of trails of various difficulty through a variety of habitats
  • Join the KNC Hiking Spree and earn a medallion by hiking at least five trails
  • Walk to the Kalamazoo River to look for Bald Eagles and Osprey
  • Explore KNC’s historic DeLano Homestead and farm
  • Visit the Pioneer cabin and barn
  • Splash away the day at Nature’s Playground
  • Enjoy some quiet time in the Hummingbird/Butterfly Garden
  • Marvel at the sculptures along the Arboretum’s Sculpture Trail
  • Go bird watching and see how many species you can spot
  • Enjoy a picnic in our Arboretum picnic area, at the DeLano Homestead, on the Glen Vista Deck, or on the River Walk Landing
  • Help KNC by pulling the invasive garlic mustard plant before it goes to seed in spring
  • Watch closely for wildlife and let us know what you see
  • Take in the view at Cooper’s Overlook, one of the highest points in Kalamazoo County
  • Visit KNC’s Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory in the spring and fall while migratory bird banding takes place
  • Go wading in the trout stream of the deck on the Kalamazoo River Trail
  • Sit quietly and listen to the sounds of nature
  • Sign your child up for camp!
  • Learn more about booking one of our unique rental spaces at naturecenter.org/Rentals
  • View our volunteer opportunities and sign-up to volunteer regularly or complete a day of service with a group
  • Purchase a membership and visit us all year round! naturecenter.org/membership

Our indoor exhibits are located in the KNC Visitor Center and include:

  • Trailhead Gifts and Books shop
  • Glen Vista Art Gallery with new exhibits bi-monthly
  • Newly-redesigned Exhibits Hall with rotating exhibitions
  • Tropical Sun Rain room
  • Expedition Station – hands-on play and discovery area
  • Live reptile and amphibian displays
  • Wildlife viewing station
  • Taxidermy

Outdoors, we have a variety of exhibits, habitats, overlooks, and trails, including:

  • Live Birds of Prey
  • DeLano Homestead and farm
  • Hummingbird/Butterfly Garden
  • Sculpture trail
  • Nature’s Playground
  • Monica Evans Arboretum
  • Emma Pitcher Prairie
  • Willard Rose Tallgrass Prairie
  • Habitat Haven fen
  • Beech Maple Forest
  • Cooper’s Overlook
  • Connie’s Overlook
  • And 14 miles of walking trails

To get the most from your trip, and to protect yourself from the elements, we recommend the following items:
• Binoculars
• Camera
• Compass/GPS
• Field guides (wildflowers, birds, butterflies, etc.)
• Hat
• Insect repellant
• Rain gear
• Snack or picnic meal
• Sunscreen
• Extra water

KNC is located in Northern Kalamazoo’ County’s Cooper Township. It is easiest accessed by taking US 131 to exit 44, D Ave and traveling east for approximately three miles. Turn south onto North Westnedge Avenue. The entrance will be one mile ahead on the left.

KNC is a private, nonprofit organization that relies on the support of our visitors and program participants. Please visit the Plan Your Visit page for details on Non-Member rates, and visit the Events page for details on program fees. KNC Members receive free admission all year! Learn more at the Membership page.

We have two trails that are stroller and handicap accessible: KNC’s Arboretum Loop (Trail #2) and Habitat Haven (Trail #5).

Yes. ADA certified service animals are welcome at KNC.

No. Domestic animals can be damaging to KNC’s delicate ecosystems and present a risk of disease transmission to wildlife. Only ADA certified service animals that are providing assistance to a guest are permitted. Leashed pets are welcome on the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail which is the paved trail that runs along the front of KNC’s property.

Yes. We do not groom our trails for winter activities, but you are welcome to use your snow shoes or cross-country skis as long as the snow is a minimum of 5 inches deep.

Although we do encourage careful and safe exploration, we do recommend staying on the trails as much as possible. Much of the KNC property is home to a variety of delicate ecosystems that can easily be damaged by exploring feet. KNC is also the home to many undesirable elements to humans such as poison ivy, ticks, etc. Always proceed with the greatest amount of caution.

Hammocks are a relaxing, fun way to spend an afternoon at KNC. We welcome hammocking, with a few safety guidelines for both visitors and trees:

Tree Check

  • Make sure the tree is alive and sturdy – don’t hang your hammock from a dead tree

  • The trunk should be at least 8” in diameter for use of a single hammock.

    • Always hang your hammock on the thickest part of the tree trunk and avoid trees that bend or are planted in damp ground.

  • Check for wildlife in the area before hanging.

    • Thoroughly check the ground and overhanging branches for sensitive plant life, wildlife dwellings, and potential hazards like yellow jacket nests or poisonous plants. Make sure you can identify common threats like poison ivy, which can be readily found along trails or hanging from trees.

  • Do NOT cut or trim branches or otherwise disturb vegetation.

     

Hammock Hanging

  • Do NOT hammer/nail/screw into the tree; only use straps.

    • Use “tree saver” type straps, 3/4-2 inch wide straps made of soft fabric.

  • The straps for a single hammock should be hung 10-14 feet apart.

  • Two hammocks may be strapped to a common anchor with separate endpoints, but cannot be “stacked” between the same two trees.

    • If two hammocks share a single trunk, the tree must be at least 16” in diameter.

    • A maximum of two straps are allowed on any tree.

  • The lowest point of the hanging hammock should be no more than 24” off the ground.

    • Safe hanging heights prevent accidents and avoid damage to higher branches and leaves.

    • Hammocks should only be hung from the main trunk, never from branches.

  • Keep your distance (at least 200 feet) from lakes, ponds, and streams to protect these delicate ecosystems.

  • Be sure to clean your hammock before and after any visit to avoid transporting unwanted pests or seeds between your relaxation locations.

COMING SOON: KNC APPROVED HAMMOCK LOCATIONS!

Reminder: Always Leave No Trace

Wild Animal FAQs

No. KNC is not licensed to rehabilitate wild animals. Only wildlife rehabilitators licensed by the Michigan State Department of Natural Resources are able to legally accept wild animals. A list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators can be found here.

If you are concerned about an injured or orphaned animal, please visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website for a list of Michigan Licensed Rehabilitators before moving, touching, or otherwise handling the animal. These community volunteers are specially licensed to care for and rehabilitate injured animals and can give you more information on your specific situation. Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless you are licensed, it is illegal to possess any live wild animal, including deer, in Michigan. Please remember that many baby animals spend most of their day alone, waiting for their mothers to return.

For more information, visit the links below:
MDNR – Wildlife & Habitat
MDNR Licensed Rehabilitators contact list
The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council has a very comprehensive site with information on individual species.

No. KNC is not able to accept wild or domestic animals or exotic pets. If you have an animal in need of a new home, please contact your local animal shelter, animal control, or petfinder.com

No. Do not release animals on KNC property. When wild animals are moved to different habitats they often bring with them diseases that are easily spread to other animals that have already made their homes there. It can also cause deadly territorial issues between wildlife. Wild animals always have the best chance of survival if they are allowed to stay in the area in which they were found.

The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council has a very comprehensive site with information on individual species.

Although well-intentioned, human interventions are usually unnecessary and could be harmful to the animal. Parents are typically still in the area taking care of their babies even though they may not be visible. If you care, please leave it there!

Although well-intentioned, human interventions are usually unnecessary and could be harmful to the animal. Parents are typically still in the area taking care of their babies even though they may not be visible. If you care, please leave it there! If it is clear that the baby has fallen from a nearby nest, you may place it back into the nest without discouraging the parents from returning to care for it.

Turtles may be helped across the road, but should be placed in the direction they were originally heading. Please do so with caution, being very considerate and aware of surrounding traffic. Also remember that turtles can bite!

We do not recommend feeding wildlife. Feeding wildlife can lower their inhibitions around humans, making less fearful and more apt to become aggressive.

It is not uncommon for birds like the American Robin or Northern Cardinal to fight their own reflection in a window. Try putting something shiny or that will break up the reflection on the OUTSIDE of the glass. You can also try placing pie tins or aluminum strips on and around the problem window.

This most commonly happens with Mallard ducks, which are the most common duck species because they are very successful at raising young around humans. Mallards lay 8-12 eggs and will not sit on the eggs until the full clutch is laid, so most of the time the eggs are not abandoned. Eggs take about 30 days to hatch and eventually the adult duck will lead the young away sometimes up to a mile to get to a body of water. If possible, just leave the ducks alone and they will handle the rest.

Visit homingpigeon.com and there is a list of lost or missing homing pigeons as well as other helpful information.

Michigan has only one snake species that is venomous and that is the Eastern Massasauga Rattle Snake. Many snakes immitate their behavior as a defense mechanism. If you are unsure, there some key physical features that you may read about here https://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/species/eastern-massasauga-rattlesnake. Massasaugas are considered a threatened species and are protected by law. Do not attempt to handle or kill them. Contact the DNR if you believe you have a rattle snake in your yard https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/ORS/Survey/5.