Great Marsh Hike
Trail Length: 1.26 miles total
Average Hiking Time: 1.5 hours
9 feet of elevation gain, 0% average grade, 1% maximum grade
The featured hike starts from the south parking lot trailhead. Follow the trail generally north until the T-junction. Turn right and complete the lollipop shaped trail. Return to the T-junction and head straight this time to the Great Marsh observation desk. Lastly, hike back to the T-junction and turn right, which will take you back to the south parking lot.
History and Background
The Great Marsh is the largest interdunal wetland in the Lake Michigan watershed. It serves as a critical habitat for breeding and migratory birds. This popular trail features an overlook of the marsh where you can spot a wide variety of birds ranging from Great Blue Herons to Sandhill Cranes. While much of the marsh was drained in the early 1900's for residential and agricultural use, the National Park Service began restoration of this portion in 1998. To protect the bird life, no pets are allowed on this trail.
The diversity of plants, birds and habitats signifies the return of a healthy wetland ecosystem after decades of neglect. Now restored, the Great Marsh's fens, sedge meadows and wet prairies are again thriving and providing the natural filter to improve the area's water quality.