E.L. Johnson Nature Center

Michigan Bloomfield Hills School 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.

Deer at E.L. Johnson Nature Center at Bloomfield Hills Schools in MichiganThe 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.

Hawks at Michigan's Bloomfield Hills Schools Nature CenterThe 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.

Photography Guidelines

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 Olsen Family Visits the Johnson Nature Center

"I really enjoyed welcoming the Olsen Family back to Bloomfield Hills Schools," shares Dan Badgley, Johnson Nature Center Manager.  "I would like to express our gratitude for their help making the Johnson Nature Center a beautiful place to visit." 

The Olsen Family is responsible for planting hundreds of trees, digging the pond, and keeping records of the wildlife and plants during their twenty years of ownership.  

"We walked the grounds and reminisced about fun memories – the Olsen family grew up here in the 1950's and 60's.  They built the Nature Center residence in 1947 and lived here until they sold the property to the school district in 1968," says Badgley.

Read more about The Olsen Family Visits the Johnson Nature Center
Science Standards Instruction at the Johnson Nature Center

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."

Read more about Science Standards Instruction at the Johnson Nature Center

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.

Read more about Trails

Class Registration


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.


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