A girl wearing rubber boots and carrying binoculars bends over to look closely at a plant.
Girl Looking at Plant A young girl explores wildlife at the Nan Weston Nature Preserve at Sharon Hollow. © Michael D-L Jordan/dlp

Stories in Michigan

Enhance Your Preserve Experience

Find new ways to explore our preserves—at home or in the field.

Ways to Explore Michigan Preserves

Looking for an adventure off the beaten path? Explore different types of habitats across the state while taking in the beauty of Michigan's lands and waters at one of TNC's preserves.

The activities below will help you explore these areas from the comfort of home or out in the field. Tag us on social with #TNCMichigan to share your adventures and for a chance to be featured on our page!

Explore Our Audio Tours

Take a tour through floodplain forests, wetlands, bluffs and marshes right from the palm of your hand. Our guided audio tours include stories, fun facts, historical notes and natural sounds to deepen your connection to place. Access the tour from the comfort of your home, or onsite as you hike! Explore our available audio tours on the interactive map below. 

Grassy shoreline along Big Trout Lake at TNC's Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve.
Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve at Dudley
This audio walking tour has 2 walking options, each taking an out-and-back journey that is 2 miles in total with a few small hills and rises.
Echo Lake surrounded by tall green trees under a blue, cloud-filled sky.
Echo Lake Nature Preserve
This tour takes you on a 1-hour round-trip journey to the peninsula overlook. You can add in some steeper hiking to an overlook with stunning views of forestland and Lake Superior.
Landscape view of water and green hills at Helmut and Candis Stern Preserve.
Helmut and Candis Stern Preserve
About 6.5 miles round trip, this tour will take you to the very top of Mt. Baldy and back, so allow at least 3 hours for your visit.
Ancient bedrock sits along a tree-and-sand-lined shoreline.
Mary Macdonald Preserve at Horseshoe Harbor
If you are on location, you can begin your tour at the trailhead across the two-track dirt road from the parking lot, walking 5-10 minutes toward the lake shoreline.
Lush, green tree canopy with sunlight peeking through the branches.
Nan Weston Nature Preserve at Sharon Hollow
This walking tour takes you along a 1.5-mile route. Depending on how many stops you take, it will be about 1 hour until you reach the River Raisin.
Mushrooms growing out of greenery-covered ground.
Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve
This tour follows a 3.5-mile route that loops through the southern two-thirds of the nearly 1,500-acre preserve. It has an option to add another 1.5-mile loop near the end.
Aerial image of a beaver lodge in the middle of McMahon Lake.
McMahon Lake Preserve
This tour is a 2.7-mile loop. It begins with a flat trail to McMahon Lake. The return journey is more challenging, with a ridge that includes some steep up-and-downs.

Take the Tour at the Preserve

  • What should I do before I visit?
    • Download the free TravelStorys app to your smartphone or tablet from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android).
    • Search for the preserve you want to tour.
    • Click on the tour when it pops up, then click on the blue circle with the white arrow to download it to your device.
    • In your device settings, make sure GPS and location services are set to "allow all the time".
    • Charge your device and grab a pair of headphones (if you prefer). 
  • What should I do when I arrive?
    • In the preserve's parking area, open the TravelStorys app, and select the tour to begin (data service/internet is not required). 
    • As you hike, the audio will play at pre-programmed GPS points. It’s like a personal tour guide that you can carry in your pocket! 

Take the Tour at Home

  • How can I take the tour from home?
    • Visit travelstorys.com/tours and search for the preserve you’d like to tour. 
    • Click on the tour page and scroll to the green button “Explore this Preserve Remotely”.
    • From here, toggle your way through the interface at your own pace. Enjoy all the sights and sounds from the comfort of your home (or classroom!). 

Treasure Hunt with Geocaching

Geocaching is an exciting way to explore the landscape, to discover something new and share special places with outdoor enthusiasts. Players seek to locate hidden containers, called geocaches or earthcaches, using a smartphone or GPS. It gets the whole family outside to explore the natural world and teaches kids about navigation with the fun reward of finding real hidden "treasure."

Geocaching is a regulated activity at TNC. In order to protect sensitive habitats and maintain a fun and safe activity, anyone wishing to place a geocache within our preserves must complete a permit application first.

Geocaching 101 (1:16) Before you start geocaching, make sure you know which TNC preserves in Michigan permit this outdoor activity.

How to Start the Hunt

Field Trips & Webinars

Our chapter offers many events throughout the year including guided hikes, educational webinars and field trips. Visit our events page for more information on upcoming guided hikes, educational webinars and field trips offered throughout the year. Find recorded webinars in the video gallery below.

Volunteers carrying backpacks walk along a trail in a forest.
Ives Road Fen Volunteers Volunteer day at Ives Road Fen Preserve. © Bekah Wuchner/TNC

Volunteer days are held often at Ives Road Fen.

Volunteer

One of our most popular volunteer opportunities is at our at Ives Road Fen Preserve in Lenawee County. Enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds as you remove garlic mustard in the floodplain next to the River Raisin and cut honeysuckle in the upland prairie. As a volunteer, you'll experience parts of the preserve that most visitors never get to see!

Work days take place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET in the months of April, May, September and October. To participate, contact Chuck Pearson at ivesroadfen@gmail.com or call 615-500-8229.

Explore other volunteer events in Michigan below.

Stay in the Loop

Read about TNC Michigan's volunteer events in our newsletter.

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