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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

Hidden Lake Gardens Observation Tower and Tree Canopy Walk Construction

Project phase: Planning/Design


  • In 2017, Hidden Lake Gardens (HLG), located in Tipton Michigan, achieved its highest visitation in the last 21 years with over 54,000 visitors. Over half of these annual visitors are among the 1,303 "Friends of Hidden Lake Gardens" members. Additionally, nearly 1,000 children experienced the gardens via school field trips annually.
  • Community leaders of Lenawee County, Irish Hills, and Southeast Michigan, along with members of Friends of HLG, met with HLG staff to express their interest in developing a destination experience by constructing an observation tower and tree canopy walk in the woodland section of the gardens. This tower and tree canopy walk would inspire and motivate visitors to explore, observe, learn, interpret, and experience nature from a new and exciting perspective; the tree tops of woodland and forest communities.
  • New programming opportunities could include:
    • Education: vegetation and wildlife up-close observation, unique perspective viewing promoting conservation and preservation.
    • Outreach: attract greater diversity of visitors, cross-curricular opportunities, and promote career opportunities.
    • Research: partnerships for scientific and evaluative research across "Green" industry, best practice development for preservation and protection while providing access.
    • Visitor Experience: bird's-eye 360 degree view, outdoor human health and wellness, photography, special events.
  • The project is located at 6214 Monroe Road (M-50), Tipton, MI 49287, which is in Lenawee County and approximately 65 miles southeast of the MSU East Lansing Campus.


  • As planning begins, the project is anticipated to include:
    • Construction of an observation tower and a tree canopy walk. The observation tower will be in the northeast quadrant of the gardens and will take visitors into the woodland canopy at approximate height of 85 feet. The tree canopy walk (or bridge) through the canopy will span over a valley for approximately 350 feet in length and 50 feet high.
    • Both structures would be constructed for year-round use, incorporating all safety and security technologies that are appropriate for the style, use, and location; as well as ADA compliance.


  • Construction start: TBD
  • Ready for occupancy: TBD


  • Based on cost experience for similar projects and current pricing information, the project cost estimate is $1,200,000 - $1,500,000. This estimate may change as the project and its scope are refined during the planning process.
  • The source of funds for the project is expected to be gifts to Hidden Lake Gardens/Land Management or debt financing with debt repayment from gifts to Hidden Lake Gardens/Land Management.