Places We Protect

Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve


Rocks of various sizes along the shore of a lake. A forest grows on the land surrounding the lake.
Gerstacker Preserve Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve at Dudley Bay in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. © Ron Leonetti

Dudley Bay features one of the most spectacular limestone bedrock shorelines in Michigan.



Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve protects a large expanse of contiguous forest on and near the Lake Huron shoreline to support migratory birds on their journey north and south, as well as safeguard other rare plants and animal species.

Enjoy five miles of beautiful shoreline across four bays on Lake Huron, two small islands, Big and Little Trout Lakes, and parts of two creeks.

Visitors might also see a variety of animals including the loon, pileated woodpecker, osprey, wolf, and several species of neotropical migratory songbirds such as the American redstart and magnolia warbler.




Hiking, swimming, bird watching, geocaching, hunting

Explore our work in Michigan

The Nature Conservancy sign on the right. The area is now overcome by plant life.
The Nature Conservancy sign on the right. On the left is shore that is sparse of plant life.
Over the years See how the preserve has transformed from 2008 (left) to 2020 (right).

Plan Your Visit

  • When to Visit

    This preserve is open year round. 

    The month of May is one of the best times of the year to visit this preserve as migratory songbirds are either resting, en route to other destinations, or settling on breeding territories for the summer.

    In mid-September, take a walk down the trail leading to Little Trout Lake and enjoy the spectacular beauty of an autumn day. 

  • What to Bring

    Bring insect repellent, a hat and sunscreen before heading to this preserve

  • Permitted Activities
    • Hiking, skiing and snowshoeing
    • Bird watching, nature study and photography
    • Swimming
    • Geocaching
    • Kayaks and canoes are permitted on Lake Huron. Vessels must be carried from the parking area.
    • Research projects and educational studies with approved permit
    • Hunting with a TNC-issued permit for whitetail deer
  • Prohibited Activities
    • No rock climbing and rappelling
    • No motorized and non-motorized vehicles
    • 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
  • Hunting

    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 TNC as well as a Michigan deer hunting license. Additionally, hunters must report any deer taken from the preserve.

  • Questions?

    Have questions about the preserve? Contact Shaun Howard, TNC protected lands project manager in Michigan.

Two people stand next to a wooden preserve sign.
Preserve Dedication The preserve was officially renamed in 1996 after Carl E. Gerstacker, a founding member of the TNC’s Michigan board of trustees. © TNC


The preserve was created in 1993 through the generosity of Marilyn Twining and her family who, over a period of years, sold the major parcels of land to TNC in order to protect them as the Little Trout Lake Preserve and the Dudley Bay Preserve.

In honor of a combined grant from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, the Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow Foundation and the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, the preserve was renamed in 1996 after Carl E. Gerstacker. Gerstacker was the former chairman of the board and director of The Dow Chemical Company as well as a founding member of the TNC’s Michigan board of trustees.

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Explore Via Audio Tour

Our guided audio tours include stories, fun facts, historical notes and natural sounds to help deepen your connection to the world. You can access the tour from the comfort of your home, or onsite as you hike.

The Carl A. Gerstacker Preserve tour has two walking options each taking about an out-and-back journey that is two miles in total with a few small hills and rises. One route takes you to Little Trout Lake and the other to Big Trout Lake. Both routes are about 1 to 1.5 miles in total, mostly flat with a few small hills and rises, and will end back here in the parking lot.

Keep Exploring

From shifting sand dunes to granite bald mountains, explore over 35 preserves and reserves spread across the state of Michigan.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

See the Complete Map

Make a Lasting Impact

You have the power to make a difference for the Great Lakes State and for our planet. Your support will help fund groundbreaking science and conservation activities that protect the lands and waters you love.