Warren Woods State Park is located in the tiny southwest Michigan town of Three Oaks, just a few miles north of Indiana.
It is a relatively small park, only around 300 acres. The main attraction is a 1.5-mile trail through a virgin beech and maple forest. Along the trail, you can watch for wildlife while enjoying some peace and quiet (when the black flies are gone!).
Due to its off the beaten path location and lack of activities, Warren Woods State Park sees only 2,000 visitors a year. This is in vast contrast to its sister park seven miles away, Warren Dunes, which sees more than a million annual visitors.
The park also has the honor of being a National Natural Area.
History of Warren Woods
Warren Woods State Park is named for local Three Oaks businessman and shopkeeper Edward Warren, the inventor of the featherbone corset. Back in the 1800s, manufacturers produced corsets from whalebones, which were expensive, heavy, and brittle. Warren experimented and ultimately decided turkey wing feathers were more lightweight and durable for his female customers.
He amassed a large fortune and purchased various plots of land in Three Oaks and surrounding areas. This land was eventually donated to the state through his Featherbone Foundation to be preserved for the public.
He initially purchased 150 acres to save the beech and maple trees. That land makes up Warren Woods State Park. One of his other significant purchases became Warren Dunes State Park.
The trail at Warren Woods
There is only one trail at Warren Woods State Park. It starts at a small dirt parking lot off Elm Valley Road and heads north to Warren Woods Road. The trail crosses Galien River and winds through dense forest. In the middle, there are a couple of short spurs, but essentially, they all lead back to the main trail. You can’t get lost because you’ll eventually reach one of the main roads.
While it’s not a strenuous trail, there is a decent staircase at one point. The state designates the trail for walking only, no bikes or horses. Dogs are allowed on-leash.
Prepare for bugs, depending on when you visit. During July, we encountered horrible biting black flies. Other times of the year you might find mosquitoes. And yet sometimes there won’t be anything at all to bother you.
Overall impression of Warren Woods
Warren Woods State Park is extremely primitive with only a vault toilet and a picnic table. It is an ideal spot for birdwatching, wildflower or wildlife viewing, or just simply a nice stroll through the woods. It’s not the biggest park, and I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit, but if you’re already in the area, take time to stop by.
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