The Natural Area is 195 acres of relatively wild land adjoining and south of the developed campus in Petoskey. The Natural Area can be accessed from the southeast corner of the parking lot near the Student and Community Resource Center (Lot #6 on campus maps). The Natural Area is bordered by the Bear River to the south (except for about 7.2 acres south of the river), farmland to the east and woodland to the west.
The landscape itself gives a record of the environmental changes since the last Ice Age: mainly glacial deposits associated with retreating glaciers and remnants of floodplains abandoned by the Bear River as the water levels in Lake Michigan have dropped. A dozen different biotic communities, both upland and wetland, can be found within the boundaries of the Natural Area, making it an excellent place for environmental studies, photography, and wildlife observation.
North Central Michigan College has dedicated this land as a natural area to be utilized by the following:
1. Area students—so that they are able to learn more about the natural history of northern Michigan ecosystems and organisms
2. Wildlife—so that wild creatures are able to seek a natural place in an increasingly unnatural world
3. The community—so that visitors are able to enjoy the beauty and solitude of its forest, fields, streams and wetlands.
More information can be found at the entrance to the Natural Area, including trail maps, interpretive materials, permitted activities, scheduled programs and community activities.