By: John Griffee
Just off of Daly Road rests Rudolphi Wildlife Refuge, a park in Dowagiac, Michigan. Rudolphi Woods resides along the Dowagiac River, connecting trails from the city to the nearby campus of Southwestern Michigan College.
In it’s expansive acreage of 325 miles, 8 miles of trails weave through some of the natural splender of southwest Michigan. There’s no escaping the wild feel to the hike through Rudolphi, making hiking boots a must for any trip there.
Of the sights offered at Rudolphi, the expansive view along the Dowagiac River stands out. Trails split which can take hikers through a bend inside the looming forests or cut straight towards the river. Each trail through the park has something to offer, whether it be the views, faun and flora or simply the atmosphere.
Sitting alongside the river, it’s easy to get lost in the sounds of the surrounding environment. Geese and ducks dart along the reeds while chittering squirrels litter the tree tops around the river. The river isn’t the hot bed for the majority of the wildlife however, as the park has trails taking hikers past stretches of wetlands.
Rudolphi has something for every point of the year. In height and close of summer, the smaller bodies of water are teeming with frogs and no lack of bugs. The sounds of the woods are almost defeaning, beginning to lower with the arrival of fall. Autumn brings leaf littered ambles through multicolored forests along the water. Winter doesn’t hide the life at the park, cataloguing every visitor’s footprints through the hills. Beneath the ice, life abounds, with lucky hikers able to spot hibernating turtles in the depths. Spring flashes blossoming flora that the area is known for.
The wildlife refuge is named after Arthur Rudolphi, one of the key figures in the history of Dowagiac’s development. It’s name is fitting, as it connects to many other parks and key attractions in the city, almost acting as a bridge across Dowagiac. The parking lot is almost never empty, a sign that the park still hasn’t begun to wane in its natural appeal.
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