14 Door Land Trust
Preserve Hikes

14 Nature Preserves You Haven’t Hiked

Hiking in Door County is beautiful no matter where you step foot. The state and country parks around the county are well known for offering miles of serene trail and endless access to natural beauty. What is often less familiar to most travelers is the option of hiking at one of the fourteen different nature preserves protected by the Door County Land Trust.

The land trust has purchased and preserved these unique places since their inception in 1986 and today they have worked to protect and conserve over 8,000 acres of fields, forests, farmlands, orchards, wetland and shoreline. A wonderful benefit of these preserves outside of protecting and conserving these special habitats is the ability to experience hiking at each of these fourteen different locations.

Here’s a preview of what you can look forward to experiencing at two of these locations: Heins Creek and Bay Shore Blufflands. Visit the Door County Land Trust website to find out more about this non-profit and how to support the protection and conservation of these preserves.

Heins Creek

Heins Creek Nature Preserve

Central Door County
Protected Acres: 74
Hiking Trail: .75 mile
Difficulty: Level to rolling terrain

Thousands of years ago, Kangaroo Lake was an embayment, or bay, open to the waters of Lake Michigan. Over time, waves and shore currents moved sand deposits creating dunes that cut off the entrance to the bay, forming what we now call Kangaroo Lake. Heins Creek is a remnant of that former landscape, moving the waters of Kangaroo Lake through this isthmus of ancient dunes to connect with Lake Michigan once more.

Heins Creek

Hiking here you will find forested and open dunes, hemlock and yellow birch, grasses, sedges and a rich understory of flowering plants. The stream and plant life provide an essential wildlife corridor for migratory birds to rest and nest. In spring and summer trout and salmon spawn in Heins Creek. Look for the flash from their silver scales in the clear, shallow waters.

Heins Creek

Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve

Central Door County
Protected Acres: 273
Hiking Trail: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Found along the west-facing shores of Green Bay between Egg Harbor and Sturgeon Bay, the Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve is a sprawling landscape filled with scenery straight out of a picture postcard. Windswept fields, towering pine forests, ephemeral wetlands and springs, cobbled lakeshore and stretches of rural open space along Bay Shore Drive all contribute to the beauty of this special place.

Bluffs

The most notable feature of the preserve is the spectacular view from the Blufflands’ most significant natural feature—the rugged rock bluff of the Niagara Escarpment. The escarpment runs like a spine down the entire length of the preserve and provides not only breathtaking scenery, but also a highly specialized habitat for many plants and animals.

You can access the bluff by hiking through the fields from the entrance on Bay Shore Drive and up the steep face of the escarpment, or, by hiking from the entrance on Reynolds Road where you’ll hike through a forest to get to the bluff edge.

Escarpment


Here are the twelve other preserves that are worth exploring:

Detroit Harbor Nature Preserve

Washington Island
Protected Acres: 148
Hiking Trail: .5 mile
Difficulty: Rolling terrain

Domer-Neff Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary

Washington Island
Protected Acres: 43
Hiking Trail: .6 mile
Difficulty: Level

Ephraim Nature Preserve at Anderson Pond

Northern Door County
Protected Acres: 26
Hiking Trail: 1 mile
Difficulty: Level terrain

Three Springs Nature Preserve

Northern Door County
Protected Acres: 515
Hiking Trail: 1.75 mile
Difficulty: Level terrain

Kangaroo Lake Nature Preserve

Central Door County
Protected Acres: 257
Hiking Trail: 1.5 mile
Difficulty: Level to rocky terrain with some inclines

Lautenbach Woods Nature Preserve

Central Door County
Protected Acres: 151
Hiking Trail: 1.25 mile
Difficulty: Level to rocky terrain with some inclines

Oak Road Nature Preserve

Central Door County
Protected Acres: 190
Hiking Trail: 2.9 miles
Difficulty: Level terrain

Legacy Preserve at Clay Banks

Southern Door County
Protected Acres: 97
Hiking Trail: 1 mile
Difficulty: Level with access to Lake Michigan

Little Lake Nature Preserve

Washington Island
Protected Acres: 32
Hiking Trail: 1.25 miles
Difficulty: Mostly level

Richter Community Forest Nature Preserve

Washington Island
Protected Acres: 159
Hiking Trail: 1.7 mile
Difficulty: Rolling terrain

Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve

Central / Southern Door County
Protected Acres: 445
Hiking Trail: 2.2 miles
Difficulty: Level to sandy terrain

White Cliff Nature Preserve

Central Door County
Protected Acres: 103
Hiking Trail: 1.5 mile
Difficulty: Level terrain