Kasey Hartz Natural Area

Edited by Theresa Van Veelen, the following is an updated and enhanced version of the original Four Mile Creek Nature Trail Guide as written and compiled by Mary K. Hartz (Kasey Hartz) perhaps in the 1970s. For a brief trail brochure with a map, see this link.

Vision for Kasey Hartz Natural Area 

The original area of approximately 8-10 acres and bisected by Four Mile Creek was established officially as the Natural Area by the Board of Trustees of Muskegon Community College May 1970.  Later this area, which is adjacent to the campus proper was surveyed and delineated as 15 acres, includes a buffer zone and again was recognized by the Coordinating Council on March 25, 2008.   “It includes a variety of small habitats which provide excellent opportunities for biology, geology, and geography studies, as well as for field problems in chemistry and physics.  Of no less importance is the aesthetic value of the area which provides students in the fine arts and humanities a real opportunity to develop a true appreciation.  The Board of Trustees of Muskegon Community College is to be commended for its foresight in establishing such as area and for recognizing the value of a natural area in the academic program at the college.

The nature trails, which have been developed and are approximately one mile, allow some of the area to be available to the people of Muskegon, school children, organizations and any individual who is interested. (link to trail map) We hope that this service of the College to the community will help to create a greater awareness and appreciation of the natural environment and a real sense of responsibility to work toward environmental quality for the Muskegon community.” This small area of undeveloped land just a short drive from the city provides cultural, recreational, and education values to many.  Here, one can learn firsthand the inter-relationships between the physical and biological aspects of the environment and better understand our relationship to the whole ecosystem.  It is a place for aesthetic enjoyment and appreciation of natural systems.


Visit Kasey Hartz Natural Area

The natural area and trails are suitable for use by college,  K-12 school aged children, scouts, church groups, and other interested community members anytime during the daylight hours.  Walking time, allowing for looking, listening, and reflecting, is about one hour; although if using the trail for a quick walking break, a loop can be walked in about fifteen minutes.  Although the first 600 feet of the trail is concrete and is wheel chair accessible, the trail is not maintained during the winter and walking on the trail is not recommended unless there is no snow cover.  

Reservations for trail guides can be made by calling the Life Science Department at 231-777-0273 or email the Life Science Department secretary at Reservations should be made at least two weeks in advance.  Groups should be no larger than 25 and larger groups will be split into smaller groups. Trail guides are trained by the Life Science Department faculty and are many times college students who are appreciative of advanced group reservations.   Spring tours are available beginning the middle of April through June and autumn tours can be requested from September through October.  All tours are contingent on the weather; so be prepared for a tour cancellation if there is rain since the boardwalks and stairways become very slippery when wet.  If your group would like to visit but do not need a trail guide, please call the Life Science Department secretary if you are bringing a group larger than ten people to avoid conflicts with other groups.  When visiting the trail, many groups take advantage of the free showings at our Planetarium but appointments must be made for the Planetarium. (see this link for planetarium reservations).

Driving access to the Kasey Hartz Natural Area on the campus of Muskegon Community College (221 E. Quarterline Road, Muskegon, MI 49442) is obtained by parking in the North Parking Lot off of Quarterline Road and walking toward and along northern side the automobile technology wing to the trailhead located just northwest of the building.   If already on campus, the trailhead is located from the main first floor. Exit the building from the outside doors just east of the Chemistry Laboratories and follow the sidewalk to the north / northeast (away from the inner courtyard live roof area) until you see the trailhead to your left. See this link for more campus location details.


See below for more information if you want to be a trail guide or  contact the LS department 231-777-0273. 

Purpose of the Natural Area 

This webpage contains the purposes of the Kasey Hartz Natural Area in bulleted format.


Brief History of Kasey Hartz Natural Area

Read this webpage for historical briefs about the Kasey Hartz Natural Area.


Overview of the Kasey Hartz Nature Trails

Visit this webpage for an overview description of the trails and ecosystems of the Kasey Hartz Natural Area.


Along the Trail

This webpage contains much information about the trails, ecosystems, and species as one walks along the trails in the Kasey Hartz Natural Area. With correlating photographs and links to species fact sheets, the numbered paragraphs correspond to the posted trail numbers along the trail.


Kasey Hartz Natural Area Habitat and Species Fact Sheets (including some dune and prairie species)

Completed by independent study students of Theresa Van Veelen who also served as editor, the many species and habitat fact sheets are listed and linked on this webpage. Photographs were taken by the students and T. Van Veelen.


Nature Trail Guides

See this webpage if you are interested in becoming a nature trail guide for the Kasey Hartz Natural Area.


Muskegon Community College Herbarium 

Many plant specimens from the Kasey Hartz Natural Area and from surrounding West Michigan areas are preserved in the Muskegon Community College Herbarium located in the Life Science department area. Some of the specimens have been specifically constructed for students and are utilized by the college students for courses such as BIOL 104, BIOL 120, and BIOL 120F. If you desire to view particular herbarium sheets, please contact Theresa Van Veelen ( with your request and possible visiting dates/times.




Beyond the Glass Exhibit

Access this webpage for more information about the Kasey Hartz Natural Area exhibit on the main floor in the Hendrik Meijer Library/Information Technology Center. While standing in the main area of the library, look outside through the huge window and correlate educational text from the display via the panoramic photograph to the living world beyond the glass.