141 S. Jackson St., Jackson, MI 49201 :: 517.764.4440
Experience Jackson

Birding

With hundreds of native and migratory bird species flocking to our forests, fields, marshes and lakes, Jackson is a bird lover’s paradise. The county provides a variety of opportunities for observation, entertaining both novice groups and seasoned bird watching groups.

Groups may wander along shady paths, hike woodland trails, enjoy sparkling lakes teeming with birds. Each location you encounter offers a memorable experience. A great diversity of habitats, from native forests to wide marshes, provides a year-round haven for the birds of Jackson . Download our Jackson Bird Sighting Checklist for your next birdwatcing excursion today.

Step on birding tour guide

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A very special place

Our varied habitats remain uninterrupted by development in some areas, drawing many diverse species that are rarely seen elsewhere. Hundreds or even thousands of Sandhill cranes gather in eastern Jackson... » Read more on A very special place

Peregrine Falcon Webcam

Birds are not only seen in parks and sanctuaries, in fact downtown Jackson has a unique birding opportunity. A pair of peregrine falcons have chosen to nest and breed atop... » Read more on Peregrine Falcon Webcam

Jackson has several parks and sanctuaries famous for the opportunities to see many different birds. Bird watchers don't have to be on foot just to find the birds on your list. The Falling Waters Trail allows birdwatchers to visually explore many habitats on bikes or skates while the Grand River Environmental Action Team and Quiet World Sports offer birdwatching opportunities from Jackson's scenic waterways.

Waterloo Recreation Area

(734) 475-8307
Website | Facebook
16345 McClure Rd.
Chelsea, MI 48118

Waterloo Recreation Area Located northeast of the city of Jackson near Portage Lake County Park and Phyllis Haehnle Sanctuary, Waterloo Recreation Area is the largest park in the Lower Peninsula. At more than 20,000... » More Information

Park Features
  • Picnic Tables
  • Picnic Shelter
  • Playground Equipment
  • Walking-Biking-Cross Country Skiing Trails
  • Fishing Site
  • Lake Swimming Access
  • Boat Launch
  • Modern Restrooms
  • Portable Toilets
Waterloo Recreation Area

Located northeast of the city of Jackson near Portage Lake County Park and Phyllis Haehnle Sanctuary, Waterloo Recreation Area is the largest park in the Lower Peninsula. At more than 20,000 acres, the park boasts two modern campgrounds, a rustic campground, an equestrian campground, a swimming beach, several picnic sites, 11 excellent fishing lakes, eight boat launches, 12 miles of interpretive nature trails, 47 miles of hiking trails, three rustic cabins, numerous equestrian trails and the Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center.

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Portage Lake County Park

(734) 475-8307
Website | Facebook
Portage Lake Rd.
Pleasant Lake, MI 49272

Portage Lake County Park Picnic area, grills, playground and swimming area, boat launch, a historic pump house and portable toilets are available at this 6 acre park. Directions: Take I-94 east to exit 147 to Race... » More Information

Park Features
  • Benches
  • Picnic Tables
  • Grills
  • Playground Equipment
  • Fishing Site
  • Lake Swimming Access
  • Boat Launch
  • Portable Toilets
Portage Lake County Park

Picnic area, grills, playground and swimming area, boat launch, a historic pump house and portable toilets are available at this 6 acre park.

Directions:

Take I-94 east to exit 147 to Race Rd.  Turn left (North) on Race Rd. Turn right (East) on Seymour Rd.  Turn left (North) on Portage Lake Rd.

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Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary

(517) 641-4277
Website | Facebook
9066 Seymour Rd
Grass Lake, MI 49240

Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary The Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary is well-known as THE staging area for Sandhill Cranes. Every autumn, thousands of these birds gather here in preparation for their southern migration. The 963-acre... » More Information

Hours

Open year round from dawn to dusk.

Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary

The Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary is well-known as THE staging area for Sandhill Cranes. Every autumn, thousands of these birds gather here in preparation for their southern migration. The 963-acre Michigan Audubon Society sanctuary has a variety of habitats, making it possible to see over 200 species of birds and plants, including the Rough-legged Hawk and the Northern Shrike during the winter months. 

The Sanctuary is always open to visitors, and during the fall on weekends sanctuary greeters will be available to answer questions. You can also see many Cranes feeding in the fields in the area in the spring and summer, but especially the fall (September to mid-November). Late afternoon visitors during that time of year can see well over 2,000 Sandhill Cranes landing in the sanctuary during that time. We have even been fortunate to have an elusive Whooping Crane visit the sanctuary as well.

The Jackson Audubon Society is the steward of this sanctuary. They ask that you please stay on trails or the observation areas and treat the land, plants and wildlife with respect.

The Phyllis Haehnle Sanctuary is located 6 miles northeast of Jackson, Michigan on Seymour Road. For GPS, you can use the coordinates of 42.322, -84.289. 

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Dahlem

(517) 782-3453
Website | Facebook
7117 S. Jackson Rd.
Jackson, MI 49201

Dahlem Dahlem is a place to experience, study and enjoy nature. With five miles of hiking trails containing forests, fields, marshes and ponds, visitors can enjoy a guided hike or experience... » More Information

Hours

Trail Hours
Dawn to dusk, 7 days per week, including holidays

Guided Nature Hikes
Every Tuesday from 9am- 11am.

Building Hours
Tuesday - Friday: 9am - 5pm
Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday: Noon - 5pm
Monday: Closed 

Meeting Facility Features
  • AV Equipment Available
  • Air Conditioned
  • WiFi Available
  • Internet Available
  • Multiple Rooms or Facilities
Event Capacity
  • 200
Dahlem

Dahlem is a place to experience, study and enjoy nature. With five miles of hiking trails containing forests, fields, marshes and ponds, visitors can enjoy a guided hike or experience the natural wonders on their own. A newly resurfaced 3/8 mile trail has been specially redesigned for visitors with limited mobility. Dahlem offers year-round educational programs for students and families, including naturalist programs, workshops and special events. The exhibit area and Nutshell Gift Shop are located within the main visitor building. The Nutshell is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts to shop, and is an excellent source for nature-related books, clothing, bird-feeding supplies, jewelry and many other items, including fresh wreaths during the holidays. 

Dahlem serve as a natural history education center for kids, but it is also known around the state and country for having one of the largest bluebird trails. Birders can capture the songs of Eastern Bluebirds along this well-maintained trail, as well as the harmonies of other migratory songbirds. The annual festival to celebrate these birds is called the Birds, Blooms and Butterflies Festival.

Venue Capacity

Dutcher Room - 80

Pavilion - 80

Green Space - 125

Group Tour Information

Year round groups of 10 or more are encouraged to take a 90 minute guided nature hike and interactive presentation by a Dahlem Naturalist. Groups will discover seasonal favorites such as dragonflies, bird watching and butterflies on five miles of well groomed trails. Meanwhile limited mobility presentations are also available offered on the paved “Nature for All Trail”. Seated educational presentations are also available in the environmental education space. Groups should plan to spend 1.5 to 2 hours on site.

Groups may also schedule a Dahlem Naturalist to meet the bus at a variety of different birding and wild flower hot spots throughout Jackson county.  

 

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Sparks Park & The Cascades

(517) 788-4320
Website | Facebook
1400 S. Brown St.
Jackson, MI 49203

Sparks Park & The Cascades Sparks Park & The Cascades a.k.a. The Cascasdes Park & The Cascade Falls The best known attraction of this 457 acre park is The Cascades Falls, a man-made,... » More Information

Hours

2014 The Cascades Schedule

The Cascades will be open for a light show from 8:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. on these dates:

  • Nightly May 23 - September 1
  • September 5 & 6
  • September 12 & 13

All dates are weather permitting.

Park Features
  • Flower Garden
  • Fountain
  • Benches
  • Picnic Tables
  • Picnic Shelter
  • Grills
  • Playground Equipment
  • Basketball Courts
  • Baseball/ Softball Fields
  • Walking-Biking-Cross Country Skiing Trails
  • Golf Course & Golf Learning Center
  • Winter Sledding
  • Fishing Site
  • Modern Restrooms
  • Portable Toilets
Sparks Park & The Cascades

Sparks Park & The Cascades a.k.a. The Cascasdes Park & The Cascade Falls

The best known attraction of this 457 acre park is The Cascades Falls, a man-made, illuminated waterfall with musical accompaniment enjoyed by all since 1932. Some prefer to watch the dancing lights and listen to the beautiful music from comfortable seats, while the more energetic climb to the top of the 500 foot hill alongside the six giant fountains while dodging the spraying water. The falls are illuminated every night in season, 8:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. with an admission charge. Children 10 years and under are free with paid adult. Call for special group rates. 

The park, also known as the Sparks Foundation County Park, features the Cascades 18-hole Championship Golf Course and Cascades Short Course and driving range.  Other features of this park, operated by the Jackson County Parks Department,  include outdoor basketball court, baseball and softball fields, a very popular walking path, playground area, and a picnic shelter.  The Cascades Park is also the home of many special events such as the midwest's largest Cascades Civil War Muster and spectacular fireworks shows every year. Don't forget to stop by the Cascades Ice Cream Co, featuring "Frozen Dome Malts", opened March through September.

The Sparks Park newest feature is the urban fishery. The fishery was first stocked with 500 Blue Gill and 100 Large Mouth Bass. The urban fishery was completed in June 2012 and was open for fishing on July 1, 2012.  The area includes a fishing pier, walking path, informative signs and a large picnic gazebo.

2014 Admission Rates for The Cascades Falls

Senior   $3.00 per person*
Regular   $4.00 per person
Family Nights $7.00 per family
Fireworks  $6.00 per person
Children 10 and under always free with paying adult.

Group Rates for 12 or more people at $3 per person*, with one person paying for entire group.
(Please call ahead – Mon thru Fri @ 517-768-2901)

*The senior and group rates do no apply to the firework shows

2014 Season Passes
Includes Family Nights and Fireworks
Single (1)   $40.00
Double (2)   $60.00
Family (Limit 8)  $90.00

Group Tour Information

Groups are encouraged to contact the Jackson County Parks Department at 517-788-7320 for a special behind the scenes tour and pricing information. Guided historic tours of this man-made illuminated waterfall usually last about a half hour and take place before evening light shows in the summer.  Groups should plan to spend 1.5 to 2 hours on site.

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Ella Sharp Park

(517) 788-4040
Website | Facebook
3225 Fourth St.
Jackson, MI 49203

Ella Sharp Park This park currently features an eighteen-hole Golf Course & Learning Center, eighteen-hole miniature golf course, four tennis courts, two picnic... » More Information

Hours

Park: Daily 5 a.m.- 10 p.m.

Park Features
  • Flower Garden
  • Benches
  • Picnic Tables
  • Picnic Shelter
  • Grills
  • Playground Equipment
  • Basketball Courts
  • Baseball/ Softball Fields
  • Tennis Courts
  • Soccer Fields
  • Walking-Biking-Cross Country Skiing Trails
  • Swimming Pool
  • Golf Course & Golf Learning Center
  • Mini Golf Course
  • Winter Sledding
  • Fishing Site
  • Modern Restrooms
  • Portable Toilets
Ella Sharp Park

This park currently features an eighteen-hole Golf Course & Learning Center, eighteen-hole miniature golf course, four tennis courts, two picnic shelters, rose garden, Carter’s Corner Play Structure, two lighted softball fields, three regular softball fields, ten soccer fields, four baseball fields, one basketball court, playground areas, cross country ski trails, and the Ella Sharp Museum.

Mini-Golf (Putt-Putt)

  • Ella Sharp Park's 18-hole miniaturized golf course holds fun for everyone. The mini course is open 7 days a week. Please call for seasonal hours at 517-788-4696

Lighted Softball Fields

  • The park includes 2 full service fenced and lighted ball fields. Field #1 has a scorer's building while field #2 has a rain shelter.

Open Field Sports Area

  • The park includes 3 full size football fields, 3 softball fields, 4 full size soccer fields which can be used as 8 smaller fields.

Fishing Area

  • The park has a stretch along the banks of the Grand River which is available for fishing. The area is handicapped accessible and is located in the southeast portion of the park.

Paved and Unpaved Walking, Jogging, and Bike Trails

  • The park includes a 1 mile path that connects from Fourth Street with Museum and with the South Jackson Street entrance. In addition, the park also keeps some rough trails that meander through natural preservation areas in both the East and West sides of Fourth Street. These trails are ideal for walking, jogging, and cross country skiing. Cascades Cycling Trail Map

Tennis Courts

  • The park upkeeps 4 paved tennis courts on a first come first serve basis.

Basketball Court

  • The park upkeeps one basketball court located at the South Jackson Road entrance.

Playground Equipment

  • Includes Carter's Corner located across from the Ella Sharp Museum

Facility Rental

  • The Jackson Recreation Department will reserve either the Ella Sharp Park Rose Garden (near the entrance of Ella Sharp Park) or the Rotunda (across from the Museum) for your wedding. The Ella Sharp Park Carters Corner Picnic Pavilion or the West Picnic Pavilion are also available for rental. See Ella Sharp Museum for their Facility Rentals.

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Grand River Environmental Action Team

(517) 416-4234
Website | Facebook

Grand River Environmental Action Team The mission of the Grand River Environmental Action Team, or GREAT is to promote the protection and preservation of the Grand River Watershed through activities and educational programs. Founded... » More Information

Grand River Environmental Action Team

The mission of the Grand River Environmental Action Team, or GREAT is to promote the protection and preservation of the Grand River Watershed through activities and educational programs. Founded in 1990, the Grand River Environmental Action Team is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of and restoration of the Upper Grand River Watershed in Jackson County of south central Michigan. GREAT organizes clean-up activities & monthly public canoe outings to create environmental awareness. You can find their event schedule here.

The Upper Grand River Watershed is Special in Several Ways

  • At 260 miles, the Grand River is longest river in the State of Michigan and the second largest watershed.
  • The two branches of the Grand River begin at Grand Lake and Center Lake Chain (natural beginnings) in Jackson County and join east of Jackson dropping 467 feet to Grand Haven on Lake Michigan.
  • Headwaters of the Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Raisin Rivers are also close. They all flow west to Lake Michigan, except the Raisin which flows east to Lake Erie.
  • Jackson County sits on one of the largest aquifers in North America.
  • There are over 200 miles of river waterways to paddle and hundreds of small lakes.
  • Some of the largest remaining wetlands in lower Michigan are located in this watershed.
  • The potential in this area for river and lake recreation is enormous.

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Falling Waters Trail

(517) 788-4320
Website | Facebook
Weatherwax Drive to the Village of Concord
Jackson, MI

Falling Waters Trail The Falling Waters Trail is a major east-west component of the Jackson County Regional Trail plan, connecting  the town of Concord with the city of Jackson.  This 10.5-mile... » More Information

Park Features
  • Walking-Biking-Cross Country Skiing Trails
Falling Waters Trail

The Falling Waters Trail is a major east-west component of the Jackson County Regional Trail plan, connecting  the town of Concord with the city of Jackson.  This 10.5-mile asphalt rail-trail follows the old rail bed of the former Michigan Central Railroad and at its northeast terminus the trail carries on as the Jackson Inter-City Trail from Weatherwax to Morrell Street. The trail has been dedicated as a Jackson County Park. The trial begins in the Village of Concord. Start your trail ride right with breakfast at nearby Concord Cafe. The trail is mostly rural, with only a few road crossings. It also crosses the Lime Lake County Park (5501 Teft Road) where you can drop a line for fish. There are plenty of places to stop along the way and admire the scenery, have a picnic and take a swim.

To start at the west terminus look for the intersection of River and Main St. in Concord and the northeast terminus will be on Weatherwax Rd. between Kibby and Horton Rd. Parking is available at the Weatherwax and Concord Trailhead as well as at the Lime Lake County Park at about the middle of the trail. Click here for a trail map.

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MacCready Reserve

(269) 731-4597
Website
9243 Skiff Lake Rd
Jackson, MI 49234

The MacCready Reserve is a 408-acre property that is designated for education, research and outreach programs in wildlife and forestry management. The lush environment includes 6.5 miles of trails, rolling terrain,... » More Information

The MacCready Reserve is a 408-acre property that is designated for education, research and outreach programs in wildlife and forestry management. The lush environment includes 6.5 miles of trails, rolling terrain, towering hardwoods, natural springs and colorful wildflowers, creating a diverse habitat for numerous species of birds.

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Kate Palmer Sanctuary

(517) 641-4277
Website
O' Brien Road and McCain Rd
Jackson, MI 49201

A small oasis in an increasingly urban landscape, the 53-acre Kate Palmer Sanctuary is located amid a patchwork of suburbs. The sanctuary is known as one of the richest woodlands... » More Information

A small oasis in an increasingly urban landscape, the 53-acre Kate Palmer Sanctuary is located amid a patchwork of suburbs. The sanctuary is known as one of the richest woodlands in Jackson County for spring wildlowers. The sanctuary also includes two champion sized trees.  Migrating songbirds are also present in the spring. Social trails exist.

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Quiet World Sports

(517) 879-8981
Website | Facebook
Vandercook Lake County Park
1000 Parkway
Jackson, MI 49203

Quiet World Sports Are you having your share of fun? In our increasingly complex world the answer is typically “of course not!” It’s getting more and more difficult to... » More Information

Hours

10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Seven days a week

After Labor Day, Sat & Sun 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Pending weather conditions, please call ahead.

Quiet World Sports

Are you having your share of fun? In our increasingly complex world the answer is typically “of course not!” It’s getting more and more difficult to unplug-unwind and fall back into natural rhythms to rejuvenate ourselves. That is why we paddle kayaks. Once we’ve left the launch site, within a few short minutes, we’ve reconnected back through time to a world of utter simplicity. There’s just us, our kayaks and paddles, and the always-changing waters. And before we know it, we’re getting our gentle, relaxing exercise while adding precious FUN back into our lives.

We paddle the Grand River, Vandercook Lake, Browns Lake, Williams Lake & Cove Lake. We offer rentals at Vandercook Lake and lessons and tours at all locations. We offer Sit-In, Tandem and Sit-On-Top Kayaks as well as Stand-up Paddleboards. 

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Jackson County Tower Building

(517) 788-4331
Website | Facebook
120 W. Michigan Ave.
Jackson, MI 49201

Jackson County Tower Building Designed by prominent Detroit Architect, Albert Kahn and completed in 1929 after the merger of Union Bank and Peoples National Bank. The 17-story Tower Building, was at that time referred... » More Information

Jackson County Tower Building

Designed by prominent Detroit Architect, Albert Kahn and completed in 1929 after the merger of Union Bank and Peoples National Bank. The 17-story Tower Building, was at that time referred to as the "Golden Towers." In 1933 the National Bank of Jackson was organized as the successor to the Union and Peoples National Bank.  Operations continued in the original building, though the National Bank never took ownership. In 1958, the National Bank vacated and for several years Consumers Power Company leased space.

In 1975 it was sold to the County for a nominal sum by the Raymond Kolowich family and became the County Tower Building.  The County Commissioners' Chamber is located on the 2nd floor up the marble flight of stairs.  Italian leaded stained glass windows surround the chamber which was originally the main banking area. A long awaited restoration of the this lobby was finished in July of 2011.  This former bank lobby has been restored to its former glory with repairs made to the stained glass windows, vaulted plaster ceiling and wood paneling that surrounds the 7,200-square-foot room. Three-tiered chandeliers and a marble balustrade were also installed. It is now an acessible to the public customer service area housing the county treasurer, register of deeds and equalization department.

This ""castle-topped"" structure is one of Jackson's most treasured buildings and continues to reign as downtown Jackson's tallest landmark.

Another unique feature of this building is not historical in nature but biological. A pair of peregrine falcons have chosen to nest and breed atop this iconic building, a first in Jackson County.  The happy couple who usually mate for life can be seen in season on their very own webcam http://www.co.jackson.mi.us/tower_falcons.asp

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