"It was amazing!" exclaimed Abe Rosett, 4th grade student, after seeing birds banded at the Nature Center. Bloomfield Hills Schools students visited the Nature Center for an annual bird banding field trip each spring. Expert, licensed bird bander Allen Chartier taught students how to capture, weigh, measure, and track birds of all species that fly into the area. The Nature Center has been home to a 29 year long bird banding study!
E.L. Johnson Nature Center
The E. L. Johnson Nature Center is a beautifully natural, forty-acre site that offers visitors myriad visual pleasures and a plethora of learning opportunities. It features a scenic, four-acre, inland pond that is home to an assortment of fish; a large variety of trees including stands of pine, hardwoods, and a sugar bush; and many native plants and wildflowers that decorate the rolling terrain left by prehistoric melting glaciers. A tributary of the Rouge River flows through the park-like area.
The grounds are crisscrossed with more than two miles of pleasant, wood-chipped, walking trails, and foster a safe habitat for a host of wildlife. Red fox, coyote, deer, mink, as well as a multiplicity of birds, amphibians, and reptiles have been observed. There are also special wildlife pens that contain orphaned deer and injured hawks and owls that can be observed up close.
The Visitor Center and classrooms, erected in 2006 with the funding assistance of generous grants from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, feature interactive educational exhibits and seasonal displays that provide a wealth of information. The facility, parking lot, and pathways are barrier free. The Visitor Center, log cabins, and an outdoor amphitheater provide areas for meetings, classes, and programs.
Visiting the authentic 1800's homestead is an interesting trip back in time, and a favorite for youngsters! Docks, boardwalks, bridges, trail signs, picnic tables, and benches enhance a visitor's experience. The Center provides a lovely setting for people of all ages and from many communities to observe wildlife, improve their physical fitness, learn, or simply enjoy the beautiful and peaceful surroundings.
Feel free to walk our approximately 2.0 miles of nature trails and enjoy all that nature has to offer. Stop by to visit our two resident deer, our red-tailed hawk and two great-horned owls. Be sure to relax by our pond where you may see some frogs or turtles!
The BHS Johnson Nature Center is known for maple syrup, the walking trails and pond, and the hawks and deer that reside there. However, you might not know that it is also a key partner in teaching the Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS) to Bloomfield Hills Schools students. All K-7th grade students take two field trips each year to the 35-acre preserve.
"Our main function is to augment the classroom instruction," Dan Badgley, Nature Center Manager says. "We run programs that are topical by grade. For instance, fifth graders learn to explore ecosystems and second graders learn about plants and habitats. We start by explaining science concepts and we follow up with engaging questions to bring more depth to the topic. We incorporate literacy and reading, too. Then, we break the students into small groups for hands-on experiences."
The grounds are crisscrossed with more than two miles of pleasant trails, fit for snowshoeing in winter weather. Shoeshoes are available for rent at the Nature Center on weekends ($3 person/$10 family of 4 per hour). Trails are open Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - dusk and Saturday & Sunday, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
The Nature Center has seasonal displays of wildlife, nature themed puppets and toys for children to play with, and a fireplace to warm you up. Just outside you can visit our resident deer and rescued red-tailed hawk. Visitor hours are Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 - 3:00 p.m.
E.L. Johnson Nature Center
3325 Franklin Road
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302
Dan Badgley, Manager
Jackie Doran, Program Assistant
Scheduler, scouts, and all out-of-district schools
Open hours for the trails are:
- Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. (Gates locked at dusk during late fall and winter due to darkness.)
- Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Trails are open throughout the year, including during school vacations.
- Closed on major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and Fourth of July.
Call 248.341.6485 for updates. Restrooms are available during open trail hours.
NO PETS OR BICYCLES ARE ALLOWED ON THE TRAILS.
Visitor Center hours are:
- Weekday hours vary seasonally, please contact the Nature Center for center times.
- Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00pm until 3:00pm
Guides / Naturalist
- Sandy Cohen
- Karen Fenwick
- Jody Harrington
- Anne Ross
- Edie Schmitz
- Blanche Wicke