Spring Hikes With Your Local Conservancy

Spring Hikes With Your Local Conservancy

Spring has arrived bringing fresh buds and hints of greenery. Take in the scenery, and get in an hour or two of exercise, on a conservancy-led hike. The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) and the Leelanau Conservancy both offer spring hikes at various trails and preserves. “Our hikes are led by skilled staff or volunteers who have specific expertise in the land and the exciting things one might encounter while hiking,” says Jennifer Jay, GTRLC director of communications and engagement. Leelanau Conservancy hikes are also guided.

Check out the conservancies’ calendars to find a hike near you. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Find specific directions to the hikes on each conservancy’s website.

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy

April 28: Nature Hike, Reffitt Preserve at 1 p.m.

GTRLC Land Steward Chris Garrock will lead a hike at the ecologically diverse preserve, which is located about 3.5 miles southeast of downtown Traverse City near the Traverse City State Park. The 1.7-mile trail loop winds through wetlands and forests.

May 3 & May 10: Spring Wildflower Hike, Pete’s Woods/Arcadia Dunes at 10 a.m.

Preserve Steward Paula Dreeszen will lead her annual wildflower hikes in the Pete’s Woods area of Arcadia Dunes: The C.S. Mott Nature Preserve. Traverse 1.5-miles across a carpet of spring wildflowers and learn about native species. Meet at the Swamp Road parking lot south of Joyfield Road about 8 miles southeast of Frankfort.

May 20: Nature Hike, Maple Bay Natural Area at 5:30 p.m.

Local botanist Angie Lucas will help hikers identify endangered Great Lakes plant species such as Lake Huron tansy and Pitcher’s thistle along with other native spring plants in bloom. The natural area is located west of the Petobego State Game Area about 5 miles north of Williamsburg.

May 21: Botanical Hike, Pete’s Woods/Arcadia Dunes from 3:30 p.m.

Learn about visiting spring warblers with Preserve Steward Paula Dreeszen. Meet at Arcadia Beach at the west end of Lake Street in downtown Arcadia.

Click here for a complete schedule of conservancy events.

Leelanau Conservancy

* Leashed dogs are allowed in natural areas, but NOT on docent-led hikes.

April 9: Early Spring Hike, Clay Cliffs at 2 p.m.

Observe spring plant life and take in views of Lake Michigan with docents Janet Ward, Ann McInnis and Jane Gale. Clay Cliffs is 2 miles north of Leland off of M-22.

April 19: Earth Week Hike, Teichner Preserve at 2 p.m.

Conservancy Land Steward Emily Douglas and docents Sharon Oriel and Joanne Gerben take hikers along a boardwalk trail down to the shore of Lime Lake. The preserve is located on the northeast end of the lake.  

April 23: Spring Hike, Lamont Preserve at 10 a.m.

Explore the beautiful preserve on Christmas Cove Road near the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula with docents Marsha Buehler and Jane Gale. Be on the lookout for pink lady’s slipper and blue warblers.

April 30: Hike, Swanson Preserve at 1 p.m.

Take a spring hike at Swanson Preserve with JoAnne Gerben and Lou Ricord. River otters live along the 2,000-feet of shoreline on Little Traverse Lake and cardinal flower, a rare fern species, can be found along the trail. The preserve is on M-22 near Sugarloaf about 8 miles east of Glen Arbor.

May 7: Mother’s Day Weekend Hike, Clay Cliffs at 2 p.m.

Start celebrating Mother’s Day a little early and explore the 105-acre Clay Cliffs Natural Area, located 2 miles northeast of Leland, with docents Jane Ward and Jane Gale.

May 21: Spring Hike, DeYoung Farm at 1 p.m.

See trees in bloom and how the new trail is progressing with docents Dave Amos and JoAnne Gerben. The 145-acre property on Cherry Bend Road is home to a historic farmstead with a mile of shoreline on Cedar Lake.

May 28: Spring Birding Walk, Chippewa Run at 8 a.m.

Join birding beginners and enthusiasts on the annual spring birding expedition. Docent Lou Ricord and other local birders will help locate and identify birds along the 1.5-mile Chippewa Run trail network. The 110-acre natural area, located on M-22 about a mile north of Empire,  contains history of Anishinaabek settlements along the creek.

*All hikes are free, but you must sign up before attending as spots may be limited.

Click here for a complete schedule of conservancy events.


By Carly Simpson, MyNorth Media