The southern loop is fully accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, while the northern rustic loop offers opportunities to explore more secluded areas of the preserve. Birds, deer, turkeys, and other wildlife are often seen along the trail.
The land for Anderson Woods Nature Preserve was donated to the Land Conservancy by Judy Anderson. Her family had a long history on the land, beginning with her father, Theodore. Theodore Anderson grew up on a farm on Bard Road in Muskegon County in the early part of the 20th century. His parents were Swedish and Norwegian immigrants and Theodore was the youngest of nine children. “He hated being on the farm!” his daughter, Judy Anderson says today in telling her father’s story. “It was nothing but work.”
As an adult, Theodore became a design engineer for electronics. He, his wife Essie, and their family frequently moved around the country for job opportunities. He never lost touch with his roots, though, and in 1929, he bought an 80 acre forested property that was near his family and less than two miles from the farm where he grew up.
“The 80,” as Theodore called this property, was in Fruitland Township, just a few miles from the Lake Michigan shoreline. It is a mixed hardwood and pine forest, dominated by sandy soils and it provides nesting and feeding habitat for migratory and resident songbirds, especially those that prefer larger blocks of undisturbed forest like the ovenbird.
“My father was so fond of his 80,” Judy said. “It was always his wish to build a house on the property where he could retire and live in his old age. Mother was a city girl, though. She never wanted to live on the property. So they ended up retiring to Onekama where my mother was born. But they never sold the 80.”
Judy inherited the property after her parents passed away. As a legacy to her father who cherished the land, she donated it to the Land Conservancy in 2013 for the purpose of protecting it forever as a nature preserve. “It was my dad’s wish,” Judy said when asked why she chose to protect the property. As a Land Conservancy nature preserve, the Anderson Woods forest is open to the public for future generations to enjoy, just as Theodore Anderson once did.