Last Checked: October 28, 2014.
Status: Open for business
Frog Preserves is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year (2013). Long Live Froggy!
Special note. We wish to thank all those who found our letterbox and hid it well when finished. We appreciate your courtesy.
This letterbox will take at least an hour to complete (most likely longer) and you will walk between 1.5 and 2.5 miles. There are a few mild hills to climb. If you want to find all 5 boxes, please see the addendum at the end of these clues.
Poison ivy is abundant in Michigan woodlands. Remember the old scout saying, "leaves of three, let it be."
Mosquitoes and Deer-flies are also abundant at certain times of the year. Be prepared. Have you tried "DEERFLY PATCHES?" I've had good luck with them.
The Ott Biological Preserve, located in Emmett Township, Calhoun County, Michigan, is a hidden jewel of the county's park system. Situated just east of Battle Creek, this green space includes approximately 300 acres of natural habitats that have been shaped extensively by glaciers, which were last in this area 14,000 years ago.
Within the boundaries of the preserve are two spring-fed kettle lakes, Brigham Lake and Hall Lake, and the east edge of Dexter Lake (formerly known as Blanck Lake), as well as wet, peaty lowlands and dry, sandy uplands. The uplands include two prominent eskers (glacial ridges), one traversing nearly the length of the property from southwest to northeast.
Elevations in the Preserve range from 852 to 920 feet above sea level, with the lowest point being Hall Lake and the highest point near the NE edge of the property. Well-developed hardwood forests of the uplands include black, red, and white oaks, and pignut and shagbark hickories in the canopy, with flowering dogwood as a common under story tree. Common tree species of the lowland hardwood forests are yellow birch, red maple and black ash, with spicebush in the under story. Some of the forested areas are less developed and represent fields and orchards abandoned as recently as 30 years ago. Common trees in these areas include young black and red oaks, box elders, and apples.
The lake edges are ringed with trees such as pussy willow, tamarack and the notorious poison sumac. From the tree line to the water's edge exists an interesting habitat called fen, which is underlain by marly, alkaline soils and dominated by sedges. These fens support carnivorous plants including the purple pitcher plant, sundew and bladderworts, and several spectacular orchids. There are also marshes on the preserve dominated by sedges, grasses, cattails, and shrubby species such as red-osier dogwood and willows.
This mixture of habitats supports a diverse fauna, which includes several species of frogs and toads, box turtles in the forests, Blanding's and spotted turtles in the fens and marshes, and numerous birds, from waterfowl to migratory warblers. As one would expect, mammals such as gray squirrels, raccoons and white-tailed deer are abundant.
Getting There -
Locally: Take E Michigan Avenue (Business Loop 94) to near McDonald's where brown signs direct you to turn N on Arlington Street (directly across from KFC), from which the preserve entrance is visible one block north on Arlington.
Westbound I-94. (Approaching from Detroit)
Leave I-94 at Exit 104 (11 Mile Road), the Firekeepers Casino will be to your left as you exit. At the top of the ramp, go straight through the traffic signal. You will now be on Wheatfield Road. After four tenths of a mile, turn right at the stop sign. You are now on Business Loop 94 (E. Michigan Avenue) and also M-96 heading towards Battle Creek. After the traffic signal at Wattles Road, watch for the brown sign for the right (N) turn at Arlington Street (directly across from KFC), where you will see the Ott preserve entrance one block north on Arlington.
Eastbound I-94. (Approaching from Chicago)
As you near Exit 100 (Beadle Lake Road) you will see a brown sign stating that County Parks (including the Ott Preserve) are reached by taking Exit 100. Don't believe it. It's much easier to go on to Exit 104 (only 4 more miles) and exit there. However, Exit 100 is the proper exit if you are going to the zoo. As you leave I-94 at Exit 104 (11 Mile Road) and cloverleaf to the right you will reach a traffic signal at 11 Mile Road. Be in the right lane and turn right on 11 Mile Road. After crossing over I-94 you will immediately be confronted with another traffic signal where you will want to turn left. You will now be on Wheatfield Road. After four tenths of a mile, turn right at the stop sign. You are now on Business Loop 94 (E. Michigan Avenue) and also M-96 heading towards Battle Creek. After the traffic signal at Wattles Road, watch for the brown sign for the right (N) turn at Arlington Street (directly across from KFC), where you will see the Ott preserve entrance one block north on Arlington.
If you should be here in the proper season, the black raspberries and mulberries provide a delicious snack as you walk the trails. Keep an eye out.
Proceed to the trailhead at the north end of the parking lot. Immediately after starting a new hard surface trail branches to the right. Stay due north on the lesser trail. The trail heads due north until you reach "The Main Y." There is a bench and a trash can here. From here you can branch left or branch right. The choice is LEFT up to you.
Walking in the proper direction, continue in a westerly way. As you continue downhill you may vear left or right, it does not matter, just continue down the sandy path. At the bottom of the sandy hill continue straight ahead to the shore of Hall Lake and rest a while on the sturdy bench (or not). At last report, it may not be as sturdy as it used to be. Listen for frogs or look for birds.
To continue, backtrack a short distance to the major interchange at the bottom of the sandy hill. Take the path to the left.
As you amble on your way you may notice Hall Lake on your left. At the first fork, you would be right to go left. Or if you prefer, you would be wrong to go right. At the next fork, preheat your oven to 60 degrees and carry on. If you get a little confused in this area, just keep taking the left branch until you reach the next bench (on an esker).
This is the "esker bench." From this bench, continue on a northerly course. You may wish to rest your back before proceeding.
As you stroll along the esker, try to find the five trunk elderly statesman to the west. A grand old gentleman indeed. He stands a little bit before the next bench. Soon the esker trail begins to head downhill. Continuing downhill you will soon reach a boardwalk. Do what comes naturally.
Along the boardwalk you will cross a historic bridge, the Smith Road Bridge. It was placed here by a helicopter in 2001. A North Country National Scenic Trail sign is/was located at the bridge. One day, this National Trail will be continuous from eastern New York to central North Dakota. Over 4000 miles across seven states. Now that would be a hike! The blue swatches you see along the trail indicate that it is part of the National Trail system. Time marches on, and so must you.
As you continue uphill after the long boardwalk, do not be tempted by cross trails. Explore if you must, but return to the uphill trail and continue on. To your right, as you continue uphill, you may occasionally see a lake. If you are lucky, you may hear fogs croaking merrily away. Isnít nature grand (I don't include mosquitoes in that statement)?
At the top of the hill you will reach a wider cross trail that heads north and south. Follow the swatches down the trail to the right (remember what I said about the blue swatches?). You will soon reach another boardwalk, this one much shorter than the previous one.
In the summer season you may view an abundance of wild rose plants along this short boardwalk. For an added treat for your frog preserves, collect a rose hip or two. It will add an interesting flavor highlight to the finished product.
Continuing NE up the trail from the end of the short boardwalk (about 200 single foot falls) you will soon reach a wide spot in the trail. At this point a branch trail heads south (to the right) to Brigham Lake (donít go that way) and along the right side of the main trail there is a sleeping tree. Go to the east end of the slumbering trunk. Take three large hops back west from the east end of the snoozing gentleman. (look behind the log under the branch) Ribbit. Please be sure to rehide the letterbox better than you found it.
Getting Back To Your Car: IMPORTANT: At the point where you locate the "Frog Preserves" letterbox you are no longer on the loop trail. Go back out the way you came in. Don't miss the left turn uphill from the short boardwalk (follow the blue swatches). If you miss this turn, you could end up walking for a long time. When you reach the "esker bench", you may go back the way you came in, or take the trail to the left (both trails are part of the loop trail). Due to construction in the park, a hard surface trail has intersected the loop trail. You can take the hard surface trail south back to the parking lot or work your way back to the loop trail where you will soon reach "The Main Y", and head south to the parking lot. Happy letterboxing. If you wish to contact the owner of this letterbox, our email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADDENDUM: There are four more letterboxes that you can find starting at the location of Frog Preserves. They are "Chipmunk Chowder," "Mosquito Margarita," "Termite Tamales," and "June Bug Jello." If you want to find all five boxes (including Frog Preserves) it will take you over three hours. Plan accordingly. It takes me 2 hours and 45 minutes to pull maintenance on all 5 boxes.