1. This large tree is a Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum.
In fact, most of the trees in the area are Sugar Maples. These trees,
along with the American Beech, Fagus grandifolia, make up one of the
most abundant deciduous forest trees in Michigan. There are the
largest trees to border Miller's Marsh and are responsible for attracting
much of the wildlife associated with this area.
2. Depending on water levels, to your left you can see
either a peninsula or an island extending northward into the main water body
of Miller's Marsh. This area of land is slightly higher than the marsh
itself and is dominated by several White Pine trees, Pinus strobus.
In June this area is a favorite birthing area for White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus
3. You are now in the midst of a small grove of Hemlock Tsuga
canadensis. This tree is typical of the northern latitudes where
well-drained soils are prominent and where hard, cold winters are
standard. Hemlock possesses a particularly dense wood, which has a
multitude of uses in the building industry.
4. This site is notable for the large American Beech, F.
grandifolia, which is quite hollow but still is alive. Such a tree
is important, as it provides hollows and cavities for a variety of animals.
5. This very large tree beside the trail is a Yellow Birch Betula
alleghaniensis. It can be identified by tasting its twigs and
detecting the oil of wintergreen!
6. This site indicates the presence of an early pioneer's
hand-dug well. Early homesteaders had no choice but to dig their wells
by hand. They lined the wells with field-gathered stone to avoid
sedimentary contamination and to prevent the sides of the walls from
7. This area is home to a large number of plants that carpet
the forest floor and look like miniature Pine Trees. Actually these
are very "primitive" plants known as "Club Mosses"
within the genus Lycopodium. Because of their small size and
resemblance to conifers, they are known in the vernacular as "Princess
8. To the right of this site, one can easily see the
channelized waterway made by the Beaver, Castor canadensis. The
Beaver uses these waterways during all seasons, but they are particularly
important during the winter. Movements underwater become more
important during this season as these mammals swim from their dens to their
underwater summer caches of twigs, branches, and leaves.
9. The tree blind at this site is used by sportsmen during
the fall to hunt for White-tailed Deer, O. virginianus.
Biologists use this blind during the spring and summer seasons to observe
10. At this point you are walking through a grove of trees
composed mostly of the beautiful Paper Birch, Betula papyrifera.
These trees are classified as an early successional stage, which means that,
following a clearing of the area, they are one of the first types to
establish their dominance.
11. To the right, notice evidence of Beaver, C.
canadensis, activity. This large rodent has chewed and cut this
tree. This activity often is conducted as maintenance of the proper
occlusion of their large, prominent incisor teeth. Chewing on wood
provides a mechanism to bring about an even wear between the upper and lower
12. On your left at the very margin of the marsh you will
observe a beaver lodge. This structure is the year-round home of a
family of Beavers, C. canadensis. Whatever the season, this mound
allows these mammals to reside above the water level but still have access
to their underwater channels for foraging purposes.
13. This area is covered with a variety of wetland
vegetation, mostly dominated by sedges. They represent an important
component of marsh plants and are characterized by having three-sided or
triangular stems. "Sedges have edges!"
14. You almost have completed a loop of the marsh and again
find yourself in a Beech-Maple climax forest. Due to the specific
characteristics of the soils here, this vegetational association between
these two trees (American Beech, E. granidfolia and Sugar Maple, A.
saccharum) represents the final type of vegetation that will inhabit the
area. These trees ultimately become the dominant forms of woody vegetation
in the area due to their specific characteristics of shade tolerance and
wide range of moisture tolerance.