The Brooks Nature Area (BNA) was established as a Marshall City park on April 17, 2006. The City originally acquired this property in 1969, along with the land which later became the Brooks Industrial Park, from L. Alta Brooks, widow of Louis Brooks.
Prior to 2006, approximately 80 acres of the 189 acre area had been farmed. Records indicate that this land had been farmed as early as 1832. Farmers removed a substance called marl, a combination of clay and calcium carbonate, from certain areas of Upper Brace and Brace Lakes for use as fertilizer on the adjacent farm fields. The adjacent lake was originally known as Lune Lake in 1837and was later changed to Brace Lake in honor of Horace N. Brace, who owned the lakeshore property. In 1921, a request was presented to the City to change the lake name to Stuart Lake in honor of F.A. Stuart who “expended much to beautify the lake and its surroundings” (Marshall Chronicle, 1921). Based on plat maps and text dated 1873, Stuart and Brace Lakes once formed a single lake estimated to be approximately one and a half by two miles in area. Drainage has resulted in the formation of two separate lakes.
An 88-acre area of the BNA was taken out of farm production after park establishment in 2006. The City partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to reestablish this area in native prairie. In addition, four one-acre plots were planted as food plots for wildlife on site. The remaining 97 unplanted acres in the park are hedgerows, wetlands and wooded areas.
Welcome to the Brooks Nature Area!
There are currently 2.3 miles of maintained trails within the park, with more being established. The park’s terrain is relatively flat with a variety of habitats to enjoy.
Trailhead (0.25 Miles)- This stretch of the trail system extends from the trailhead parking area on 18 ½ Mile Rd and connects to the North Prairie Trail. The trail borders a restored native tallgrass prairie with views of StuartLake. This is a good spot to view sandhill cranes, blue heron, Canada geese and numerous duck species.
North Prairie Trail (0.7 Miles) – This trail travels along a restored tallgrass prairie, wetland, and wooded areas. Frogs can often been seen along the trail near the wetland area.
Woodland Loop (0.4 Miles) – Shady, wooded areas are found along this loop which borders prairie and farmland. Woodland birds such as the pileated woodpecker might be spotted here.
South Prairie Trail (0.7 Miles)- This trail borders tallgrass prairie with views of StuartLake and mature woods. Take notice of the numerous bird houses and their residents along the way.
Lakeshore Loop (0.25 Miles) – Three hundred-year old cherry and oak trees can be viewed along this trail through shady, mature woods. A variety of other forest species are also visible from the trail. Outstanding views of StuartLake are another highlight of this loop.
We hope you enjoy your visit to the park!
Park Hours: Dawn to 10:00 pm
Take I-94 to Exit 110. Go south toward Marshall. At the Fountain Circle (Michigan Ave.), travel east to Marshall Ave. Go south on Homer Rd. Proceed east to 18 1/2 Mile Rd. Follow 18 1/2 to parking area on the right.