Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens

Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens

After months of hearing about Whiting Forest in Midland, Michigan through Facebook, we decided that we needed to check this place out. Whiting Forest is a nature park established by the Dow Chemical Company. The park is complete with a canopy walk through the trees, an extensive nature trail, an apple orchard, and a nicely sized playground for the kiddies.

We attended the newly opened Whiting Forest in the middle of October, 2018 and we were surprised to see that the place was packed. I guess their advertising through Facebook was pretty effective.

Nonetheless, we did manage to secure an experience of some of the great things Whiting Forest has to offer, despite the hundreds of families venturing to do the same. The Canopy Walk is exactly what it sounds like: a winding quarter mile walkway through the trees, nearly 30 to 40 feet above the ground. The walkway has multiple lookout points, a net to lay in and look straight down, and these strange orb things that can be crawled around in.

Whiting Forest Orb
You too can crawl into this magical orb in the Whiting Forest

The Canopy Walk is certainly a neat attraction, and unlike anything we had really been to before, but I might recommend going on a day where there are less people expected to be in the park. We felt partly rushed in taking in all of the features of the Canopy Walk due to the large number of attendees.

However, if you do happen to attend on a less busy day, expect to find plenty of areas where you can relax, decompress from your busy lifestyle, and ponder the sounds of nature.

Now, if you’re familiar with the name Dow, but you’re not sure where you’ve heard it, be forewarned. It is true that Dow was one of several manufacturers of Agent Orange and napalm during the Vietnam War. They’ve also worked on everything from herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides to plutonium triggers for hydrogen bombs, and amusingly enough, breast implants.

How does any of this relate to their Whiting Forest nature park?

It doesn’t! And you won’t find anything even remotely related to Dow’s more questionable enterprises in the Whiting Forest. But it’s at least good to know some of their background, eh?

After you’ve taken the time to check out the Canopy Walk, be sure to take a stroll through the network of trails on the ground. Those who are a little more prone to staying away from heights will find this area much more fitting to their sentiments. The trails are not rocky or steep, by any means. Instead, you’ll find that they are mostly flat, well trodden, and gently curl through the network of white pines in the area.

The trails have a couple of bridges which cross over small ponds and streams. However, the forest trails offer 1.5 miles of ADA Accessible hard-surface pathways, and 1 mile of mulch pathways. There are also a number of seating areas along the pathway for those who tire easily, or who would simply like to sit and enjoy the scenery.

Whiting Forest Trails
Sometimes, if you listen closely enough, the birds will teach you a new song as you enter into the woods.

If you’d like to learn more about the Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens, click here.

Another great thing about Whiting Forest is that a long footbridge connects the nature preserve to the Dow Gardens. If you plan to spend the day in the Midland area, you’ll definitely want to head across this bridge to make it into the garden area.

While it may have been ideal for us to visit the nature preserve and the canopy walk in autumn due to the beautiful reds and golds in the changing leaves, you may find that the garden itself is a lot more splendorous in the spring or summer.

The Dow Gardens are simply massive, and they have plenty of extravagant buildings, statues, and exotic plants waiting around every corner. The founder of the company, Herbert Dow had a philosophy to never reveal the entire garden at once so that some amount of mystery was always left, waiting to be discovered.

Regardless of what you’re feelings are about Dow Chemical, it’s incontestable that they’ve done a great job at maintaining their 110 acres of garden landscape.

If we can find the time, someday we’d like to revisit the garden area when more of the plants are in bloom. According to the Dow Gardens website, you can find a pollinator garden, an herb garden, a color garden, a rose garden, a children’s garden, a stream walk, plenty of sculptures, and a wide variety of pine trees laced through the landscape.

Sun Bridge of Dow Gardens
The Sun Bridge in the Dow Gardens

Whiting Forest and the Dow Gardens are open year round, aside from a few holidays throughout the year. At the time we attended, daily passes were priced at $5 for adults, $1 for children aged 6 to 17, $1 for college students, and free for children 5 and under. There are also annual admission passes available for $10, but the last I heard, they may be increased to $20 after 2018.

In any case, you can learn more about tickets here.

Finally, as an honorable mention, there is also a science center located just between the Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest. Most of the museum is geared towards activities for younger children, though, that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a blast after venturing in to see what it was all about.

With the science museum, the gardens, and Whiting Forest, you will undoubtedly have a whole day of fun-filled activities.

There is a small cafe in the Whiting Forest visitor center, but we found it much more pleasing to pack our own lunch for a picnic among the tall arching pine trees. If you happen to find yourself hungry for dinner, check out some of the best restaurants in Midland. Or, if you’re up to it, head over to Bay City which is just a short drive away.

After our long and adventurous day in Midland, we ended up in Bay City at a restaurant near the shores of Lake Huron.

Ahh, how the Great Lakes always seem to call us back.

We watched the sun set over the bay of Huron, happily clinking our beer mugs at the Tavern 101 restaurant over some Margherita pizza and newly cherished memories. Thank you Facebook ads for turning us onto Whiting Forest. We are happy to have been acquainted with your natural splendor.

If you liked reading this article, let us know!

Feel free to drop a line in the comments below, and don’t forget to stay tuned for more exciting destination articles.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Whiting Forest and Dow Gardens are funded by the Herbert and Grace Dow Foundation , not Dow Chemical. Also the volume of visitors has become a comfortable flow and not crowded like it was in it’s opening month last year. It is worth the trip to visit .

    1. Thank you for the clarification, Chris. I would definitely agree that it is worth visiting. 🙂

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