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Michigan

Helmut & Candis Stern Preserve at Mt. Baldy




Open to the Public

Yes

Things To Do

This land will be open for foot access and activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, bird watching and deer hunting by permit. View All

Plan Your Visit

Located in Keweenaw County in the Upper Peninsula, right next to Eagle Harbor, MI. View All

Get Directions

Although also known as Lookout Mountain, Mount Baldy earned its name because wind has clearly shaped this bald community with stunted, wind-contorted conifers at its highest elevation. Towering 730 feet above Lake Superior in northern Keweenaw County near Eagle Harbor and Lake Bailey, the mountain offers spectacular panoramic views of Lake Superior and the Keweenaw Peninsula. The preserve features a craggy, mile long ridge top that harbors a “northern bald” community, containing several nearly treeless openings. Northern balds are restricted to large escarpments of volcanic bedrock ridges and are characterized by sparse vegetation, areas of exposed bedrock, and thin, slightly acidic soils. This ridge-line drops in a precipitous 230 ft. cliff along the south face, and more gently, in forested slopes northward to the shores of Lake Bailey. Down slope and along the ridge stunted oak forest dominate the preserve and further down the vegetation is dominated by a mix of conifer and northern hardwood forest. Local inhabitants include the black bear, snowshoe hare, peregrine falcon, ruffed grouse, golden-crowned kinglet, black-throated green warbler and yellow-rumped warbler.

While bedrock balds are common in the Appalachians and adjacent Canada and New England, Mt. Baldy is the least disturbed example of only a handful of known occurrences of a northern bald natural community in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Other similar ridge-tops in the Keweenaw all have signs of previous forestation, such as stumps and charcoal, and require further study to determine proper classification and quality ranks. Thus, this is likely the finest example in Michigan with natural alpine-like vegetation. Northern Michigan balds have a distinctive flora, probably due to the less acidic basalt/conglomerate bedrock compared to Canada and New England, and the climatic distinctness compared to Appalachian balds.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
Northern bald communities are extremely rare in Michigan and only occur around the Keweenaw from Isle Royale to Gogebic County. Mt. Baldy is believed to be exceptional locally because it harbors a unique variety of plant life at its peak, where treeless openings harbor several disjunct northern (“alpine”) and western ("prairie") plant species scattered amongst wind-contorted white cedar and ground juniper. It also accommodates an amazing array of bird species that pass over the site during their annual migration.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Every July, the Conservancy allows Mt. Baldy to become the site for the “Hill Run” portion of the Run the Keweenaw, a three-day trail running festival. Runners run on a specifically designated trail which avoids the rare plant communities.

In 2006 the Conservancy dedicated the main ridge trail as a memorial to Nicole Bloom. Nicole was a Michigan Tech student who was active in many environmental issues but sadly died in a mountain climbing accident the summer after she graduated.

Mt. Baldy Google Map

From the parking area along the Eagle Harbor Shortcut Road, the hike up Mt. Baldy is a steady, uphill 3 mile climb. It can take 2 hours to reach the summit, but the views of Lake Superior and the Keweenaw Peninsula are well worth it. Because of the thin soils, which cause shallow rooting, and harsh conditions, vegetation can be extremely slow to recover or reestablish following excessive trampling. Please stay on the trail. 

The Nature Conservancy allows hunting for white-tail deer on this preserve to reduce threats too many deer pose to our conservation targets. All hunters are required to receive a permit from the Conservancy as well as a Michigan deer hunting license. Additionally, hunters must report any deer taken from the preserve.

If you plan to visit, take Brockway Mountain Drive between Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor, there is a little turn off on the side of the road, right next to a Preserve sign that offers a spectacular view of Mt. Baldy.

Permitted Activities:

Prohibited Activities:

  • No motorized and non-motorized vehicles, including bicycles
  • No building of new trails
  • No pets
  • No hunting or trapping without a Conservancy-issued permit
  • No removal of plants or animals (alive or dead)
  • No removal of rocks, water, or other non-organic materials
  • No camping, bonfires, fireworks, or other fires
  • No firewood collecting
  • No littering

Please see "Preserve Visitation Guidelines."

Directions

From Hancock, Michigan:

  • Follow US-41 north approximately 25 miles and turn left onto the Eagle Harbor Shortcut Road.
  • Follow Eagle Harbor Shortcut Road for approximately 5 miles.
  • Turn right on to a gravel lane next to a large preserve sign marking the access road in to the preserve. You are now on Eagle Harbor Township property.
  • Follow signs to gravel parking area at the sandpit located about 1,000 feet off the Eagle Harbor Shortcut Road. Please park in the established parking lot.
  • Follow the trail marker signs (about 1.5 miles) to the Conservancy property boundary and the beginning of the Nicole Bloom Memorial trail which leads to the top of Mt. Baldy.
Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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