West Lake Nature Preserve

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A large and unique sphagnum bog is the highlight of this site. Trails and decking sections carry visitors from dry upland forest areas through lowland forest, marsh, swamp and finally onto the mat of sphagnum moss that grows in the bog. The dying moss forms a floating peat mass that may be 40 feet in depth. A network of special plastic decking actually “floats” right on top of this dense mat of moss. During times of high water, your feet may get slightly wet on this decking.

Wildlife Viewing

Bogs are home to some strange plants and animals that are highly specialized for life in a wet, acidic environment. One of these is the carnivorous (meat-eating) pitcher plant, which is fairly common here. The pitcher plant has specialized leaves which look like small pitchers or vases. These leaves collect and hold rainwater. When the plant’s fragrant nectar attracts insects, they become trapped in tiny hairs and drown in the pitchers, where they are digested with special enzymes.

Other unique plants found in the nature preserve include bladderwort, pink lady’s slipper, leatherleaf, cotton grass sedge, tamarack and bog cranberry.

Contact the Portage Department of Parks and Recreation for the Wander the Wetlands brochure that explains more about this rare and unusual bog community.


From I-94 in Kalamazoo, take Exit 76. Travel south on South Westnedge for 3 miles to South Shore Drive. Turn left (east) onto South Shore and look for site entrance on the left side of the road.

Ownership: City of Portage

Size: 130 acres

Closest Town: Portage

Facilities and Opportunities:

  • Restrooms
  • Trails – Over 2 miles of easy walking trails with self-guided tour.
  • Picnic
  • Drinking Water
  • Barrier Free

References and More Info

  • Trail Location
  • Trail Measurement
    Trail: 2 Miles Area: 130 Acres
  • Compass Latitude
  • Compass Longitude
  • Numeric Latitude
  • Numeric Longitude
  • Trail Images
  • Trail Maps
  • Trail GPS Files
    • Trail Weather

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