Take This Tucked-Away, Up North Boardwalk for Epic Wildlife & Nature Views in Arcadia Michigan

Arcadia Michigan Marsh Nature Preserve boardwalk

The Little Town of Arcadia Michigan Now Has a Big Draw

Tucked away in little burg up north is the Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve.

Most people mistakenly drive right by on M-22, not knowing that there’s a hidden gem featuring a rare Lake Michigan Coastal Marsh just around the corner.

In fact, the Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve trail opened in 2019 and is so new, many locals don’t even know about it yet.

Read on to learn why a visit here might just be the perfect field trip for home learners, too.

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About Arcadia Michigan Marsh

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve
16791 Northwood Hwy, Arcadia, MI 49613

Building the trailway across the Arcadia Michigan Marsh was a huge process that involved the restoration of the marsh, followed by construction of the 3/4 mile universally accessible boardwalk on an old railroad grade.

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve

The boardwalk trail will take you into the heart of the marsh where wildlife flourishes and would be a fabulous field trip for families.

Plan to spend at least an hour – but likely more – enjoying this beautiful natural space in Arcadia Michigan.

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve location

The Best Boardwalk Trail

Park in either of the two parking areas: M-22 or St. Pierre Road in Arcadia Michigan to access this easy nature boardwalk trail.

Trail Map Download

At just under a mile, this universally accessible pathway system travels over diverse wetlands and all but guarantees abundant wildlife viewings.

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve swans

Plus, it’s not every day you get to hike through a marshy nature preserve and get the perfect IG backdrop. The boardwalk goes on and on, giving you endless ways to incorporate it into your photos.

You have almost a mile of boardwalk to play with here – it’s a great opportunity to take unique family photos – and maybe even score one for your Christmas or holiday cards.

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve boardwalk
Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve boardwalk

NOTE: No dogs are allowed at this Arcadia Michigan preserve.

Also, a central portion of the boardwalk trail is closed each year from April 15 – July 15 to protect several species of nesting birds.

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve boardwalk


The wildlife at Arcadia Marsh Preserve is off the hook.

Definitely slow down and take your time when you visit – if you rush, you’ll miss the little things that make this place so special – like the birds.

The Arcadia Marsh hosts over 150 species of birds including 17 state endangered, threatened, or species of special concern.

In fact, this destination is a pivotal stop on the Sleeping Bear Birding Trail.

Bring binoculars. This place is huge and they will make your trip even more memorable.

Here are just a bit of the wildlife that we saw on our visit:

Great Blue Heron & Mute Swans

birds of Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve boardwalk (1)
Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve swans


Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve muskrat

And oh so many toads – I think my daughter counted 100 before she gave up!

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve toad

What Grows Here

And then there’s the vegetation.

No matter the season, you’re in for a treat when it comes to plants in Arcadia Nature Preserve.

You might be tempted to dismiss the things that grow in wetlands as swampy, but they really are special things that you won’t find just anywhere. And they offer important supports to the wildlife that call the marsh home.

Here’s a glimpse of the plants of Arcadia Marsh:

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve plantlife

Blue Vervain really struck my eye.

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve plants

And we couldn’t get enough of watching the monarch butterflies flutter and fuss over the milkweed plants.

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve butterfly

Identifying different plants as you walk is another way to turn this trip into an excellent field trip.

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve forest

More Things to Do Near Manistee

» Magoon Creek Natural Area – Great place for beach glass & rock hunting
» 28 Things to do in Manistee
» Sleeping Bear Dunes

Follow #MyManistee on social media or check visitmanisteecounty.com for more area inspiration.


Nearby Lodging

Book a Stay at Portage Point Resort

Manistee County

Portage Point Resort
8567 Portage Point Dr, Onekama, MI 49675

Our homebase for our long Manistee weekend was Portage Point Resort.

We had never stayed at the resort before, so didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, we were in for a surprise.

The cottage we stayed in was adorable, the saltwater infinity pool was amazing, and some in our family discovered a new love for shuffleboard.

This is a condo resort, which is perfect for families. We had a full kitchen and two bedrooms so everyone had their own bed and we had space to spread out.

It really was a great home base for our explorations and we’ll be sure to visit again.

With so much to do in the Manistee area, you’re going to want to stay for more than just one day.

Why not make it a long weekend with one of these lodging options?

More Manistee Area Lodging Options

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Legacy Park is the latest kids park and playground to hit Ada.
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