in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Sunset at Haunted Forest Preserve in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. © Michael D-L Jordan/dlp

Places We Protect

Haunted Forest Preserve


A stunning mature, northern white cedar forest was dubbed the “haunted forest” by former landowners.



The Haunted Forest Preserve is 574 acres surrounding South River Bay on the beautiful Garden Peninsula. Including six miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, white-cedar conifer mesic forest, coastal wetlands, and extensive limestone cliffs, a stunning mature, northern white cedar forest dubbed the “haunted forest” by the former landowners gave the preserve its name.

This area is part of the Niagara Escarpment, a 420-million-year-old rock formation that encircles the Great Lakes Basin and creates limestone cliffs that rise above Lake Michigan. It also holds six miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, interdunal wetlands, Great Lakes coastal marshes and sand beaches that provide a home for rare plant life, including several ferns. It is also known as an important migratory stopover for both raptors and songbirds.

Why TNC Selected This Site

The acquisition protects important upland buffer habitat, 20 acres of coastal plain marsh, and habitat for several migratory and songbird species from threats such as fire suppression and fragmentation caused by incompatible development.

In addition, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has identified the coastal areas of the Garden Peninsula as outstanding cool and cold water fisheries due to the natural topography of the area including the shallow shoals and coastal wetlands, most notably those shoreline areas in and around the Garden Bluffs.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

The acquisition was made possible with the support of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Funding came primarily through a grant from the Green Bay/Lower Fox River Natural Resource Damage Assessment Council.

In 2012, TNC acquired an additional 117 acres with 1.4 miles of shoreline that were donated by the landowner.

TNC is currently working on creating interpretive and access trails into the preserve.


Limited Access

Explore our work in this region

Although the preserve is open to the public, there are no established trails, parking areas or signs to guide visitors. We are working right now to create guided access to those wishing to visit the preserve. Please contact UP staff for group visits of six or more participants. The preserve can be accessed by canoe or kayak on Lake Michigan by paddlers launching at Fayette Historic State Park.

The Nature Conservancy allows hunting for whitetail deer on this preserve to reduce an unnaturally high deer population in the area and 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.

Permitted Activities

  • Foot access for hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, etc.
  • Bird watching
  • Photography
  • Swimming in Lake Michigan
  • Kayaking and canoeing (Vessels must be carried from the parking lot)
  • Hunting with a TNC-issued permit for whitetail deer

Prohibited Activities

  • No motorized and non-motorized vehicles
  • No pets
  • No rock climbing and rappelling
  • 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