Howard Christensen Nature Center in Kent City, MI

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About Howard Christensen Nature Center

Address: 16190 Red Pine Dr. Kent City, MI 49330

If you've ever wanted to feed a giant snapping turtle, see a fairy house or an owl roosting forest, then head over to Howard Christensen Nature Center.

This fun park also boasts many different interest areas, including two floating docks, two overlook towers, an amphitheater, interpretive center and campfire sites available for rent.

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Located in Northern Kent County, Howard Christensen Nature Center is 135 acres of natural ecosystems with a wide variety of plants and wildlife. Some of the plant species were imported in the 1940s and are only found in a few places in Michigan.

The kettle lake is home to Jaws, the resident snapping turtle. Miles or swamp and ponds were once part of a manmade lagoon.

Howard Christensen Nature Center was originally developed as an environmental education center for Kent Intermediate School District.

About the Interpretive Center

Hundreds of animal displays, both taxidermied and live. There are also picnic tables, a critter room, bird wall, fossils and a rain garden. The nature center hosts classes throughout the year.

Hiking Trail Details

There are 12 different well-marked natural surface hiking trails at HCNC. Each is designed for walking, running, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

Trails range from 0.25 miles to 1.5 miles. Pick up a trail map at the Welcome Center and decide which habitats you'd like to explore. Options include wooded, marsh, bog, farmland, forests, ponds and lakes.

Wildflowers and wildlife are abundant and vast.

Some unnamed trails are meant for limited activity to allow wildlife privacy, but are used during special programs.

Something Unique About This Destination

Help us chart the progress of Chrishaven Lake's evolution into a bog with the Citizen Science Project. Simply stop by our Chronolog station on the south dock. Take a landscape photo, as directed by the Chronolog sign, and email it to [email protected] with the subject line HCN-101 and we will be able to chart the lake’s progress through a time lapse video.

Howard Christensen Nature Center Features

  • Dog Friendly
  • Hiking Trails
  • Interpretive Center
  • Lake or River
  • Picnic Tables
  • Restrooms

Facilities: Restrooms & interpretive center are on-site. There is a retreat center available for rent.

Stroller-Friendly? Playground or main areas only, Not on trails

Time of Year? Trails open year round from 7 AM to sunset; Interpretive Center open Friday-Sunday 11AM- 4PM.