Why You NEED To Visit Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

Shiawassee Sandhill Crane

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, located 5 miles south of Saginaw, is outstanding for hiking, kayaking, biking, bird watching and enjoying nature at its finest! 

WHY SHOULD YOU GO? The Refuge offers quiet wooded trails with that healing, back-to-nature feeling that we all crave.  It's perfect when you want a break from technology, work and well, let's be honest...a break from people.  OH, and it has great photographic opportunities! 

Refuge Headquarters Address: 6975 Mower Rd, Saginaw, MI 48601

Just so you know, dogs are not allowed on the trails.

The National Wildlife Refuse is a 9,870.35 acres National Wildlife Refuge located in Saginaw County. It is managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is dedicated to preserving and enhancing wildlife habitat, protecting migratory birds, and providing opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation and nature study for Saginaw and surrounding communities.

The Refuge hosts over 270 species of birds each year. Thousands of ducks, geese and other waterfowl stop at the Wildlife Refuge during the spring and fall migration. 

The refuge’s headquarters is located about 5 miles south of Saginaw off of highway M-13 on the corners of Curtis and Mower Road.  Phone Number: (989) 777-5930.  

Driving Directions:  From I-75, take the Bridgeport exit and turn west onto Dixie Highway; go 1/2 mile. Turn left onto Fort Road, and go about 2 miles. Turn west onto Curtis Road, and go about 4 miles to refuge headquarters. 

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge Auto Tour

Wildlife Drive is open June 1-September 30

Wildlife Drive Auto Tour-6000 Bishop Rd, Saginaw, MI 48601

Prefer to enjoy nature from the comfort of your vehicle?  If so, Wildlife Drive is perfect for you! You'll have a fantastic time driving past dense trees (keep an eye out for deer!), grasslands, marshes, pools and the scenic Shiawassee River. Restroom facilities are located at the trailhead. 

Look for herons, bald eagles and egrets!  

Wildlife drive is open June 1-September 30.  Hiking, biking, observation or other activities is prohibited when the Drive is closed.  

Why is it closed October-May? The Wildlife Drive is closed to help the refuge provide it's most important function, create a safe and interrupted resting stop (habitat) for migratory waterfowl.   

Wildlife Drive Operation Times





Gate Open:

5:30 a.m.

5:45 a.m.

6:15 a.m.

6:45 a.m.

Gate Close:

8:45 p.m.

8:45 p.m.

8:15 p.m.

7:30 p.m.

Exit By:

9:45 p.m.

9:45 p.m.

9:15 p.m.

8:30 p.m.

Keep your eyes open along the 6.5 mile self-guided auto tour route for birds, deer and other surprising wildlife as you pass marshes, pools and grasslands. 

Be sure to jump out of the car and climb the observation platforms for great photography and teaching small children about nature.  Check this map for restroom locations, observation towers and more.

Hiking at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

There are two restrooms on the Ferguson Bayou trail and there is one at the trail head at Woodland Trail.  Bring your binoculars and hiking boots!

The Ferguson Bayou Trail-This National Recreation Trail is located at the west end of Curtis Road on the south side of the refuge.  It offers over 4.5 miles of hiking and biking trails with parking on Bishop road.

This trail follows graveled roads on the tops of dikes and offers views of croplands, sloughs, forests, fields, wetlands, and pools. 

Be sure to check out the three observation platforms, equipped with spotting scopes so you can take a closer look at ducks, geese and other wildlife.  There are also two permanent photo blinds. Check out the trail map here.

The Woodland Trail- located off of Center and Stroebel Roads on the north side of the refuge, the Woodland Trail offers over 4.5 miles of trails.  These rustic trails wind through beautiful hardwood forests and past historic landmarks left from the coal mining industry in the early 1900's. 

Great trail for mountain biking, hiking and cross-country skiers.  Check out the trail map here.

Green Point Environmental Learning Center Trails

Your Checklist!  Bring bug spray, a sun hat, sunscreen and lots of water.  Wear hiking boots in case it is muddy in certain areas.  Stay on the trails to prevent poison ivy.  Bring snacks and remember to bring all trash back with you.  *Dogs are not allowed on the trails!

The Green Point Environmental Learning Center (ELC) is located at 3010 Maple Street, Saginaw, MI 48602. (989) 759-1669 Call to check for trail closures.

Directions: From I-75, take the M-46 West/Holland Ave. exit, and go 5 miles. Turn left onto Michigan Avenue, and go 1 mile. Turn left onto Maple Street, and go 1/2 mile to the Center.

Green Point Environmental Learning Center has eight different outstanding trails. 2.5 miles of nature trails for perfect for hiking and non-groomed cross-country skiing. The Center provides programs in environmental education to adults and children.

Biking is not allowed on the Green Point Trails

Check out the bird watching area, ponds, restored grasslands and learning center displays. Enjoy nature from a boardwalk and a study pier.  Green Point Environmental Learning Center has wildlife viewing areas that visitors can enjoy from inside the building.

Take your time to listen to the different birds and try to identify them.  Binoculars are helpful and a bird identification guide.  Check out the trail map here.

Kayaking the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

The Shiawassee River is incredibly scenic and a perfect place for canoeing and kayaking. The river is a warm-water river ecosystem with a slow-moving current so it is suitable for families.  You will need to bring your own kayak and gear as there are no outfitters in this area.

Launch Site: Cass River Boat Launch, on the north side of the river on M-13.  See Map below.

Be Prepared!  Bring bug spray, long sleeve shirt/pants and a dry bag for your keys and camera. Be sure to have sun screen, snacks and plenty of water. A wide brimmed hat is also helpful. 

PRO-TIP: Only have one vehicle?  Paddle upstream, then leisurely float downstream for a good workout without worrying that you will be too tired to make it back to your put-in spot.  This works for me as I frequently kayak by myself.

Click here for a Shiawassee National Wildlife Brochure.

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