Places We Protect

Portage Point Woods Preserve


A green forested area at Portage Point Woods.
Portage Point The forested habitat at Portage Point provides important migratory stopover sites for Neotropical land birds. © Jason Whalen/Big Foot Media

The historic Portage Point Inn is located near this preserve. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.



The Portage Point Woods Preserve lies in Eastern Lake Michigan near the town of Onekama and protects coastal ecological processes, including dynamic foredune and successional backdune systems. The shelter of backdune forests provides habitat for spring wildflowers such as trillium, hepatica, jack-in-the-pulpit, spring beauty, dwarf ginseng and bloodroot. 

As you hike the looped trail, watch and listen for a variety of animal species, from songbirds and raptors to reptiles and amphibians. Be on the lookout for pileated woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, rose-breasted grosbeaks, barred owls, red-shouldered hawks, eastern box turtles, American toads and eastern newts. Predators like coyotes and red foxes also hunt here for small mammals seeking shelter from the often-harsh coastal environment nearby.



No beach access. Pets are not permitted. Parking is available on Herkelrath Road.


Spring wildflowers, loop trail, unique back-dune forest,


120 acres

Explore our work in this region

Exploring the Preserve

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

  • 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

  • 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 land for scientific research! Learn More

Photos from Portage Point Woods

Tag your preserve visits on Instagram with #TNCMichigan to have your photos featured here!

Plants grow along a forest floor in Lukas Woods at Portage Point Woods Preserve in Michigan.
A group of people walk along a trail through a forest.
A bright green leaf on a tree.
A view from the ground, looking up the base of a tree trunk to the green leaves at the top of the trees.

Plan Your Visit

Frequently Asked Questions

  • This preserve is open year round but the presence of blooming wildflowers make spring a popular time to visit. 

  • While the preserve is mostly shaded from the forest canopy, hats and sunscreen are recommended. Wear sturdy walking shoes or boots for the occasionally hilly or wet terrain, and bring bug repellent.

  • Please note: The preserve does not provide beach access. 

    The trail is .75 miles of easy/moderate (easy surface, flat-well-packed, moderate due to some elevation change) plus .6 miles of hard ridgeline trail (narrower, lots of elevation).

    Trail Map

    • Hiking
    • Photography
    • Wildlife observation
    • Geocaching
    • Snowshoeing
    • Cross country skiing
  • For the safety of both the habitats at this preserve and visiting guests, we ask that you please follow the rules listed below.

    • No building of new trails
    • No pets
    • No removal of trees, 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
    • No motorized and non-motorized vehicles
    • No hunting or trapping
    • No trespassing on adjacent land
  • Have questions about the preserve? Contact us at

The sun sets over the sand dune as dark clouds form.
Portage Point Forested habitat types provide migratory stopover sites for Neotropical land birds, as well as travel and dispersal corridors for insects, birds, herpetofauna and mammals. © Mary Louks/TNC


The preserve lies within the Eastern Lake Michigan geography and protects coastal ecological processes, including dynamic foredune and successional backdune systems. Unlike the open foredune areas along the Lake Michigan shoreline, backdune areas are more sheltered from wind and sand deposits, slowing the erosion process. 

Over hundreds of years, organic materials accumulate and provide moisture and nutrients for forest species such as sugar maple, American beech, basswood, red oak and even Eastern hemlock, eventually becoming the mature hardwood forest it is today.

Boot Brush Installation

You wipe your shoes before you enter someone's house so why wouldn't you do the same when you enter a nature space? A new boot brush installation was installed at the Portage Point Woods Preserve in 2021 thanks to the generous support of Portage Lake Watershed Forever. Stop by for a quick brush before and after you hit the trail. This simple action is important to stop the spread of invasive species. 

Boot Brush (0:42) A boot brush was installed at the entrance of the Portage Point Woods loop trail in 2021.

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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