‘Neat nature’ blooms in Wildflower Walk

Parks commission, Outdoor Discovery Center partner for free programs.
Jennifer LaForest, naturalist at the Outdoor Discovery Center, points out trillium at Sanctuary Woods Park, 4750 66th St., on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, during the Woodland Wildflower Walk.

The purples, yellows and whites of spring popped out all over the forest floor at Sanctuary Woods Park in Laketown Township on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, as more than two dozen people in the Woodland Wildflower Walk photographed trillium, checked their guidebooks for yellow violets and studied the blooms and leaves.

But it was the sound from the treetops that really got the group looking up.

A barred owl called out several times and by the end of the hour-long hike, participants got to see the bird perched in a tree along the trail.

“There’s some really neat nature that takes place in this park,” said Jennifer LaForest, naturalist at the Outdoor Discovery Center who partnered with the Laketown Township Parks and Recreation Commission to sponsor the free event that kicked off the spring and summer programs in the township.

Jennifer LaForest, naturalist at the Outdoor Discovery Center, points out information about the barred owl on an interpretive sign at Sanctuary Woods Park, 4750 66th St., on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, during the Woodland Wildflower Walk. The owl was heard and seen during the walk.

LaForest later pointed to the recently installed interpretive sign at the base of the 170 steps to the upper level of the park, 4750 66th St., to help explain the barred owl habitat. The township installed the sign in September. The sign explains other wildlife in the park and the unique environment it encompasses.

A participant drops garlic mustard, an invasive species, into a bag held by naturalist Jennifer LaForest to be disposed of during the Woodland Wildflower Walk at Sanctuary Woods Park, 4750 66th St., on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, as part of the Outdoor Discovery Center tour.

Hikers also plucked invasive garlic mustard from the trails and tucked the plant into a plastic bag to be properly destroyed.

Jennifer LaForest, naturalist at the Outdoor Discovery Center, talks about the plants at Sanctuary Woods Park, 4750 66th St., on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, during the Woodland Wildflower Walk.
A participant in the Woodland Wildflower Walk at Sanctuary Woods Park, 4750 66th St., on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, studies a plant along the trail in the upper loop of the park as part of the Outdoor Discovery Center tour.

Upcoming programs

The next free program in Laketown Township is Frog Catching at Farview Park, 6257 138th Ave., from 4-5:30 p.m. May 21.

Search for amphibians, insects and other aquatic life. All collection tubs and dip nets provided. Old shoes or boots that can go into the water are recommended. No sandals or bare feet.

Suggested age range is 4 to 12 years old; Guardians stay with the class.

Other programs include:

  • Little Explorers, June 17, Wolters Woods, 6281 147th Ave.
  • Blueberry Fields Forever, July 22, Huyser Farm, 4188 64th St.
  • Incredible Insects, Aug. 23, Shore Acres, 6602 138th Ave.
  • Explore with Your Senses, Sept. 10, Shore Acres, 6602 138th Ave.
  • Night Hike, Oct. 4, Huyser Farm, 4188 64th St.

For more information on the programs, visit the Outdoor Discovery Center .

For more on Laketown Township parks, visit here.

A barred owl in the trees at Sanctuary Woods Park, 4750 66th St., on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, during the Woodland Wildflower Walk.
A barred owl in the trees at Sanctuary Woods Park, 4750 66th St., on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, during the Woodland Wildflower Walk.
A participant in the Woodland Wildflower Walk at Sanctuary Woods Park, 4750 66th St., on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, pauses on the trail to observe Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan.
Participants walk the trail during the Woodland Wildflower Walk at Sanctuary Woods Park, 4750 66th St., on Tuesday, April 30, 2024.