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Families love exploring the 40-acres of beauty at E.L. Johnson Nature Center in Bloomfield Hills. It is my family’s go-to “escape” when we need a place to stretch our legs, get some fresh air and be a part of the natural beauty of southeast Michigan. Every time we visit we stumble upon a new trail or fun spot to check out and find it the ultimate place to unwind + reconnect with the great outdoors!
Play on the 1800s Homestead
My little guy’s absolute favorite part of E.L Johnson Nature Center is the old-fashioned homestead with an old log cabin (closed to the public but fun to peak in the windows) and fun nature playscapes. There’s a tree swing + wooden teeter totter and afterwards we always make our way over to the Sugar Shack and visit the beautiful maple tree forest.
Hike a Trail
E.L Johnson Nature Center has 2 miles of mulched nature trails. We recommend bringing a carrier pack for little ones whose legs get tired. However, the trails are “hard packed” so some are wheelchair accessible & stroller friendly (jogging/all terrain strollers only) when conditions are dry. Keep in mind, if you take the trail around the pond (PT Trail) there is a large hill/stairs to climb to get back to the trailhead (take the GH Trail to avoid).
Say Hi to the Animals
E.L Johnson is home to an orphaned deer, injured hawk and great-horned owl all of which are located along the trails so that kids can visit them up close. Another one of our favorite spots to hang out is along the massive pond where we love to keep an eye out for ducks, turtles and fish. But please don’t feed the animals – it can be harmful to the animals & disruptive to their natural diets.
Visit the Storybook Trail
The Nature Center recently installed a permanent storybook walk and the book is updated every month. The trail begins just to the left of the main building and follows the FR trail which is about 0.35 miles roundtrip.
Explore the Interpretive Building
The Nature Center building is currently open on weekends from 10am – 4pm and has animal displays + hands-on learning exhibits. In-person family programming is also available including summer camps, family guided walks and year-round nature classes.
Upcoming In-Person Programming:
- Family Friendly Fishing Event // Join us for our annual fishing event along with Trout Unlimited, who is also supporting the event. Registration is required. Dates: June 19, July 17, August 21 Cost: $10/person
- Baby Pack & Yack (summer dates to be determined) // FREE Hike for new parents + babies (12 months & younger, carries only/no strollers)
- Summer Day Camps // Week-long nature camps are available for children 3 – 9 years old and offered throughout the summer. Registration is currently open!
Tips to Help You Plan a Visit:
- Pets are not allowed.
- Restrooms are available at the nature center building.
- Picnic tables + benches are located throughout the property.
- Park Hours: Trails open dawn – dusk daily except holidays, Nature Center Building Open on Weekends Only
E.L. Johnson Nature Center – 3325 Franklin Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302
About Ashley Hubbbard-Porter
Ashley Porter is a Chicago native who now calls Birmingham home. Ashley and her husband Mike and son Jake love attending local festivals, exploring Detroit’s diverse food scene, and venturing outside of Metro Detroit to enjoy the natural beauty of Michigan. With a background in Early Childhood Education, Ashley loves connecting with and supporting families in her community, which is why she is so excited to be a part of LittleGuide Detroit.