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.



Pets are not permitted.


Hiking, swimming, bird watching, geocaching, hunting

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Exploring the Preserve

The activities below will help you explore the preserve and enhance your connection with nature—from the comfort of your home or while onsite.

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    Audio Tour

    Our guided audio tour includes stories, fun facts, historical notes, and natural sounds to help deepen your connection to the Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve. You can access the tour from the comfort of your home or onsite as you hike. Learn More

  • A person crouches down to examine green plant life while on a hike at Nan Weston Nature Preserve in Michigan.


    Help our scientists and restoration managers keep track of the species in our nature preserves by using iNaturalist. You can record your observations, help others identify species and view other users' identifications. Learn More

  • Pop Goes the Weasel // Weasel pup on a sunny day at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Taken 7/17/22

    More Ways to Explore

    We offer a variety of ways to explore including geocaching, webinars, events and volunteer opportunities. You can even request a permit to use TNC lands for scientific research! Learn More

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

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 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. 

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

    • 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
  • For the safety of both the habitats at this preserve and visiting guests, we ask that you please follow the rules listed below.

    • 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
  • The Nature Conservancy allows hunting for white-tail deer on this preserve to reduce threats too many deer pose to our conservation targets and to ensure that the preserve does not become a “refuge” for deer during the hunting season.

    In order to be eligible to hunt at this preserve, hunters are required to receive a permit from TNC, follow TNC hunting program rules and comply with all local, state and federal laws and ordinances governing hunting activities, including obtaining all required government licenses or permits. For more information, please visit our Deer Hunting in Michigan page.

  • Have questions about the preserve? Contact us at

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.

Keep Exploring

From shifting sand dunes to granite bald mountains, explore our 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

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