Docent Marsha Buehler is a fan of benches. She sees them as integral to getting people of all ages out to our natural areas. Moms nursing babies. Grandparents using walkers. People with a recent illness or surgery who want to get out in the woods but can’t go their normal distance.
And so when she asked our Stewardship crew to consider putting one in midway along the short trail at Finton Natural Area, they added it to their ever growing to-do list. The bench, built by volunteers Dave Coyne and Al Swiderski, was installed in August. “It’s in the perfect spot,” said Marsha, basking in the morning light streaming through the trees. The bench looks out toward a cedar swamp as a woodpecker sounds nearby.
Marsha leads hikes annually at Finton, which is not far from her home in Omena. “It’s a great place for people with limited mobility, and now, with the new bench even more so,” she says. Marsha adds that the half-mile, wide flat trail is great for those with walkers, or young families with children who want to run in a safe place. “We all have health issues from time to time, and sometimes, you just need a place you can sit and still be out enjoying the woods,” she adds. The always-open bathrooms at Woolsey Airport, located just across the road from Finton, add to its convenience factor.
Max and Mary Finton donated this 37-acre parcel to the Leelanau Conservancy in 2000 to ensure that its natural beauty remained preserved forever. It is part of a critical corridor that spans the tip of the peninsula, sheltering and feeding wildlife traveling from Northport Bay to Cathead Bay. Finton’s tight maple and beech canopy also make for a great spot to view fall color, or to take a short snowshoe hike.
“So often older people will think they can’t join in on a family hike, that it’s too long and they can’t make it,” says Marsha. “But with a bench, grandma can walk a bit, then sit a bit, and wait for everyone to come back. That way, everyone can enjoy a place like Finton.” The trail runs out and back for a total of one half mile, and there are two places to access it—along Woolsey Lake Road where you’ll see the sign, and a second access point along Northport Point Road. The new bench is located closest to the Woolsey Lake entrance.
Benches at our natural areas also offer opportunities to honor or remember a loved one with a small dedication plaque. Funds raised help to care for places like Finton. For more info, contact Meg Delor, Development Director: 231-256-9665 or [email protected]
Marsha will be leading a hike on Sunday, October 6th at 10 am. To sign up, click here