Grab the kids and a picnic basket and head on out to Davison Township for a day in the sunshine and fresh air. There, you will find the Robert Williams Nature & Historical Learning Center – a beautiful, 100-acre park, mostly wooded with winding trails, wildlife and sun-kissed flowers. The original parcel on Atherton Road was donated to the township by Robert and Jill Williams to be used for the enrichment of the Davison community, to preserve nature, history and provide educational opportunities for residents, according to Casey Reed, Director of Davison Township Parks & Recreation.
There are four buildings at the park. One is designated for Davison Community Schools educational programming and is used for field trips and the after-school nature club, as well as teacher and administrative training. Many indoor activities are held there, such as maple syrup-making, and learning about squirrels and how winter animals adapt to the climate changes.
Another building houses the Davison Township Historical Museum, a collection of many artifacts from early families and businesses that helped to grow the Davison area, Reed explains. The museum has some really cool things, she adds, such as a horse-drawn carriage, and an old canoe that is believed to have been built by indigenous people.
You will also find the Karen Miller Event Center, which is used for Department of Parks & Recreation programs and events, classes and nature programs. The building is also available to rent for parties and special events, accommodating up to 40-50 people and offering a full kitchen. “It is a beautiful house tucked in the woods,” Reed adds.
According to Reed, grants from the DNR Land and Water Conversion Fund allowed for the addition of a pavilion, a restroom facility, a beautiful walking bridge connecting the property’s east and west trail systems, an outdoor classroom and bus parking lot.
The trail system consists of approximately two miles of beautiful limestone trails that traverse the hilly terrain and allow you to enjoy its amazing beauty. One of the more popular events at the Karen Miller Event Center is the Trail of Lights held in December. A special Storybook Trail is a quarter-mile loop featuring 12 shadowboxes, each containing a page from a children’s book. This allows for the kids to get a little exercise while learning at the same time. “It’s really fun for the kids,” she notes. The story is changed weekly throughout the summer months.
The facility’s newest building is the Kurt & Marge Soper Nature Center. Overlooking wetlands and pristine forest, this beautiful, outdoor classroom is used for various nature classes and also available to rent for events.
Of course, the COVID-19 crisis has affected the entire park, with many events canceled, Reed reports. “We have been creative with our virtual programs,” she says. They were able to host a foraging class in July, with a small group of ten people who were able to be socially distant. “We have been slow to reopen,” she says. “We put the safety of our staff and visitors first and are doing our best to keep everybody as safe as possible.”
Although events have been canceled, visitors can come out for a nature walk and enjoy the peaceful beauty. And there is abundant wildlife – deer, fox, beaver. It is also a great place for birdwatchers. If you are lucky, you may even get a glance at a pileated woodpecker. Our state’s largest woodpecker, the species is a year-round Michigan resident and easily identified by its black body, white stripes and brilliant red crest.
“Come out and take a walk or a hike,” says Reed. “It is a beautiful, wondrous piece of property.”
Photography by Kayce McClure & Provided by Davison Township Parks & Recreation