The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy has announced the sixth year of its Hike Our Preserves, or HOP, program. It’s partnering with several southwest Michigan libraries to distribute free hiking sticks that come with participation in the program. HOP is a program that encourages people – kids, families, adults – to get fit while having fun outdoors. It invites people to get an official HOP walking stick and then go hiking at conservancy preserves throughout southwest Michigan. The first 50 participants to complete 10 hikes at different preserves will receive a free gift from Jr. Rangerland. The preserves include Black River Preserve in South Haven, Kesling Nature Preserve in Three Oaks Township, and Spirit Springs Sanctuary in Marcellus Township. You can pick up walking sticks at libraries throughout Van Buren County. We have a list of them at our website. It’s $7 to register.

The SWMLC HOP preserves are:

Black River Preserve, South Haven, Van Buren County
Bow in the Clouds Preserve, City of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County
Chipman Preserve, Galesburg, Kalamazoo County
Hidden Marsh Sanctuary, Three Rivers, St. Joseph County
Hidden Pond Preserve, Hope Township, Barry County
Kesling Nature Preserve, Three Oaks Township, Berrien County
Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, South Haven, Van Buren County
Portman Nature Preserve, Paw Paw, Van Buren County
Spirit Springs Sanctuary, Marcellus Township, Cass County
Wau-Ke-Na, William Erby Smith Preserve, Ganges Township, Allegan County
Wolf Tree Nature Trails, Oshtemo Township, Kalamazoo County

Locations to register and pick up a stick:

Antwerp Sunshine Library, Mattawan
Bangor Branch Library
Bloomingdale Branch Library
Covert Branch Library
Gobles Branch Library
Hastings Public Library
Kalamazoo Public Library, Central Library (Children’s Desk)
Lawrence Branch Library
Marcellus Township Wood Memorial Library
Nottawa Township Library
Parchment Community Library
Paw Paw District Library
Portage District Library
Richland Community Library
Schoolcraft Community Library
South Haven Memorial Library
Webster Memorial Branch Library, Decatur