Park review: Kensington Metropark

Nick Skinner

photo by Nick Skinner

Sitting by the side of the lake on November 9,I could hear the wind rustling through the cattails, the calls of the great blue heron, and the sound of a frog hopping to a lily pad. Kensington is a perfect place to take a break from being quarantined inside all day.


As I walked down the trail it suddenly appeared-a massive bird standing at over 3 feet tall was right in front of me. It had a 6-inch beak that looked like it could punch through a car door and it’s legs were covered in scales, resembling its dinosaur ancestors. This was a great blue heron, one of many wildlife species found at the nature center of Kensington Metropark.

photo by Nick Skinner

The majestic great blue heron, once a rare sight in Michigan but thanks to reformed hunting laws they are now found in abundance throughout the park.

photo by Nick Skinner

A small group of wild turkeys are strolling down the trail. Remember, despite your temptation, feeding the turkeys risks harm to both them and you.


Only a half-hour drive from Groves, the nature center serves as a hub for trails and an educational facility with a museum. The parking lot is decently sized and can usually accommodate everyone, although during times of high traffic it overflows onto the side of the road. The building has two bathrooms that are well maintained and always clean. Inside the nature center, they have a small gift shop, a kid’s play area, and a small museum. The museum hosts a collection of taxidermies of local wildlife including squirrels, a raccoon, deer, and many types of birds and fish. It also has local artifacts found in the park and the surrounding area dating all the way back to the indigenous Americans. Along with all of this, they have live animals too, including fish, turtles, and snakes. The nature center has a large event room that is used for nature-related public and school events. Unfortunately, the nature center building is closed for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19, however, there is still plenty to do. The nature center is surrounded by two large lakes, and over 700 acres of bogs, marshes, and forests making it a wonderful place to hike or photograph.

photo by Nick Skinner

While on the Wildwing trial you can see a variety of aquatic life including the mallard duck. Mallards are native to most of North America but like to migrate south for the winter. Canadian Geese, Swans, muskrats, and frogs are other examples of aquatic life that can be found at the park.


The nature center serves as a junction for various trails that explore the surrounding wilderness. One of the largest and my personal favorites is the Wildwing trail, which forms a scenic loop around Wildwing lake. The first portion of the trail is a boardwalk that takes you through the marsh and across part of the lake.

photo by Nick Skinner

Scattered through the park are benches where visitors can rest and enjoy the views of the park. Benches can be dedicated to relatives of park donors, this bench is donated to my late grandfather.

photo by Nick Skinner

Along the eastern side of the lake there is an expansive boardwalk where hikers can get up-close photographs of the Heron Rookery, and catch a glimpse of the adorable baby herons in the spring. It also has one of the best sunset views in our area, with the sun setting over the forest lake and the island. The boardwalk offers an amazing view of the sun setting over the park as well.


The view from the boardwalk is absolutely stunning, you get a panoramic of the lake as well as Heron Rookery. The Rookery is a small island near the shoreline with very tall trees that host dozens of great blue heron nests. During the spring the boardwalk becomes crowded with photographers eager to catch a glimpse of the baby herons. The rest of the trail is a wide, mostly flat, dirt path with a few hills at the halfway point of the trail.


photo by Nick Skinner

I was strolling down the trail when I suddenly heard a loud pecking above my head, it was a downy woodpecker. While they don’t eat from your hand like some of the other birds, they add a calming ambiance to the forest.

photo by Nick Skinner

Near the beginning of the trail there are the remains of the osprey nesting platforms. Now abandoned by the ospreys, they now serve as perches for the great blue herons.


Found along the trails is an abundance of Michigan wildlife including foxes, turkeys, and deer. By far the most exotic is the dinosaur-like great blue heron, it stays at the park all year round. A very popular activity is to feed birds from your hand. It’s pretty simple, all you do is hold out your hand flat, put seeds in the middle, and many different types of birds will come to you, but be cautious their beaks can hurt. Overall the Kensington nature center is a wonderful place for nature and wildlife lovers. I will definitely be coming back because of its abundance of wildlife, untouched wilderness, and beautiful lakes.

photo by Nick Skinner

Kensington Nature Center has over six miles of trails through lush forests, untouched wetlands, and scenic coastlines.

photo by Nick Skinner

The tufted tip mouse is a common sight at the park and one of the many songbirds you can feed from your hand.

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The Scriptor | Newspaper at Groves High School | 20300 W. 13 Mile Road, Beverly Hills, MI 48025