Offering a unique experience in East Michigan, the For-Mar Nature Preserve treehouse is a must-see structure that offers more than meets the eye.
One of the best things about visiting or living in Michigan is its natural beauty. From the sparkling Great Lakes to lush forests to breathtaking countryside and everything in between, you don’t have to travel to see the very best of Michigan’s natural marvels.
For-Mar Nature Preserve in Burton Michigan is one place that really highlights the best of Michigan’s natural beauty. This nearly 400-acre preserve and arboretum is home to hiking trails, lots of Michigan flora and fauna, a Memorial Garden, and a butterfly house.
But, the piece de resistance is a barrier-free treehouse with quite a remarkable story.
For-Mar Nature Preserve Treehouse
As a kid, one of the most fun things in the world is playing in a treehouse. It’s there that anything is possible, time seems endless, and the imagination can run wild.
As kids grow older, a treehouse may become a dream or a memory, but at For-Mar Nature Preserve, a dream became a reality that’s now enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year. It’s hard to find visitors who don’t wish that the magnificent treehouse was in their own backyards.
From Kids’ Minds
The custom-built For-Mar Nature Preserve treehouse stands as proof that anything is possible. The idea hatched from the minds of kids who were part of the Wild Adventurers program at For-Mar.
This group of youngsters presented a proposal to Genesee County’s parks director to show the treehouse was a worthwhile addition to For-Mar. The proposal worked and plans were made to save funds for the project.
“Treehouse Masters” Lend a Hand
The Genesee County Parks Commission applied to Nelson Treehouse and Supply for help with a video presentation and, within two years, raised enough money to start scouting locations for the project. Help from “Treehouse Masters” took the plan for the For-Mar Nature Preserve treehouse to the next level.
Pete Nelson, the treehouse master himself, took the county’s plans and turned them into reality. After a month of construction, what emerged was a beautiful treehouse with a functional design. Nelson’s team created a barrier-free treehouse big enough to hold 30 people, plus instructors, that anyone can visit.
The Treehouse Construction
Patrick Willse led the For-Mar build and had a positive experience as he and the “Treehouse Masters” Michigan team collaborated. Since the construction took place in a public park, many passersby watched and expressed their excitement at the work being done on the Nelson treehouse.
Nestled in the woods, the treehouse is made up of many native Michigan trees, including red oak, white oak, black cherry, and American elm. The treehouse, known as Nature’s Super HQ Treehouse, sits about 30 feet above the Kearsley Creek oxbow bed and can be entered via a ramp or a staircase.
The Genesee County Parks system pitched in to help, building the wheelchair-accessible ramp to make the treehouse barrier free. Toward the end of the treehouse construction, Tasty Layers Custom Cakes presented the building crew with a cake replica of the new wooden creation.
A Community Success
The treehouse was an instant hit, and its construction was featured on an episode of “Treehouse Masters” on Animal Planet, which caught the attention of local media. It opened to the public in August 2016.
The county estimated that nearly 30,000 visitors had already walked through the treehouse within just a few months of opening. Since then, that number has only increased, and the treehouse is a welcome sight to anyone who visits.
The Home of Heroes
The treehouse was designed to be not only one of the must-see attractions at For-Mar but also a home to superheroes. Nelson Treehouse and Supply designed it as a home to Nature’s Superheroes — The Preservers.
Just who are The Preservers? Think of them as nature’s Avengers; do-gooders who are dedicated to preserving natural resources and the environment. Members of the Preservers include: Grandmaster Snapper, Owl Girl, The Frog, and Miss Sunflower.
Kids wanting to learn more about their adventures can download the For-Mar Nature’s Superheroes Digital Comic Books.
Inside the treehouse, visitors can see each of the heroes’ faces on the wall, thanks to designs by artist Jason Hulfish and all of the tools The Preservers need to carry out their mission.
An Educational Setting
The headquarters was also designed to be an educational setting, and visitors will find plenty of educational tools inside, including microscopes, binoculars, a projector, and other elements not found in ordinary classrooms.
It’s the perfect spot for school field trips and family outings because, let’s face it, what youngster isn’t going to have fun playing in a huge treehouse and learning about superheroes?
Kids who are up for an adventure can learn all about The Preservers on For-Mar’s Superhero Trail. Here, they’ll find turtle-shaped signs, and each one shares a piece of the group’s story.
Other Things To See & Do at For-Mar Nature Preserve
The For-Mar Nature Preserve treehouse is a sight to see and is the perfect attraction for youngsters. But, if you’re on a family trip to For-Mar, there’s far more to see, especially if you love nature.
A Top-Notch Arboretum
For more than 50 years, the preserve and arboretum has welcomed visitors, young and old, while also promoting protection of wildlife and the environment.
The arboretum stretches over 116 acres and features more than 1,800 different specimens of more than 150 species. If you love plants, trees, shrubs, and other flora and fauna, you’ll be amazed at all that you see here. You’ll want to take your time to make sure that you see it all.
Going for a Hike
If your idea of a fun day is hitting the trails and going on a hike, For-Mar has you covered. The preserve and arboretum, which opened as a county park in 1970, has seven miles of trails to explore.
The trail system is a mix of mowed lanes, gravel roads, and short foot paths that are well mapped. Most of For-Mar’s trails are short, making them perfect for families who want to go on a nature walk but don’t want to spend the whole day hiking.
There’s a lot of space to explore on your own at For-Mar Nature Preserve. But, you can also visit the Visitor’s Center for interactive opportunities that teach you about plants and animals native to the region.
Inside, you can interact with box turtles, albino garter snakes, and more. It’s the perfect spot to learn something new — from what turtles eat to the behaviors of honey bees, snakes, and wolves.
Try-It-For-Free Hiking Experiences
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to go snowshoeing? Are you new to hiking and in need of handy items? Are you looking to learn more about botany?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, For-Mar offers several different try-it-for-free options that can enhance your next hiking adventure.
- The Nature Literacy Backpack, for example, offers books to connect youngsters with nature.
- The Michigan Naturalist Backpack offers everything needed for a family hike, including pocket guides, binoculars, checklists and more.
- The Basic Birding Backpack offers guides, binoculars, and even a bird song identifier to help you learn about birds of Michigan.
A Trip to the Gift Shop
There’s no better way to remember your trip to the For-Mar Nature Preserve treehouse than with a unique gift. The Nature’s Nook gift shop offers everything from stuffed animals to field guides to educational tools and toys.
Frequently Asked Questions About the For-Mar Nature Preserve Treehouse
Here are some helpful things to know if you’re planning a trip to the For-Mar Nature Preserve treehouse.
Where is For-Mar Nature Preserve?
For-Mar is located at 2142 N. Genesee Road in Burton Michigan, less than 15 minutes from Flint via I-69 East.
What are the hours of operation at For-Mar Nature Preserve?
For-Mar’s Visitor’s Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and the grounds are open from 8 a.m. to sunset every day.
What is the cost of admission at For-Mar Nature Preserve?
There is no charge for admission to For-Mar Nature Preserve.
Who can access the For-Mar Nature Preserve treehouse?
The treehouse is accessible to everyone who visits since it’s barrier-free. It’s designed to fit about 30 people at a time. So, on busy days, you may have to wait to get inside. You may also wait if it has been reserved for a class field trip.
Plan Your Visit to the For-Mar Nature Preserve Treehouse
If you’ve ever wanted to play in a gigantic treehouse, you don’t need to dream anymore. You can just head to the For-Mar Nature Preserve treehouse to see the wondrous structure for yourself while learning all about the wonders of nature.
For-Mar is the perfect place for a family outing, a class field trip, or even to visit a place you’ve never been before. When you visit, you’ll be awestruck by the beauty, and you’ll appreciate the care and time spent preserving one of Michigan’s best places to get in touch with nature.