Lukas Woods at Portage Point Woods Preserve.
Lukas Woods at Portage Point Lukas Woods at Portage Point Woods Preserve. © Jason Whalen/Big Foot Media

Places We Protect | The Nature Conservancy

Portage Point Woods Preserve


Why is this preserve significant?

Beginning with a 40-acre parcel in 2013, the preserve now spans 120 acres and is the result of a collaborative protection effort between The Nature Conservancy and engaged local citizens who have a connection to, and love of, this place.

The preserve typifies “back-dune” forests created by dune succession, highlighting the process of forest formation inland, away from coastal dunes. Unlike the open fore-dune areas along the Lake Michigan shoreline, back-dune areas are more sheltered from wind and sand deposits, providing an important stabilizing element to the dunes by helping slow the erosion process. Through a process which spans 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.

What can I see here?

The shelter of back-dune 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. Also 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.

This preserve provides habitat for a wide variety of spring wildlflowers, making that an excellent time to visit. The area is also home to variety of animal species, from songbirds and raptors to reptiles and amphibians. While the preserve is mostly shaded from the forest canopy, hats and sunscreen are recommended. Wear sturdy walking shoes or boots for the occassionally hilly or wet terrain, and bring bug repellent.

Trail Map

Permitted Activities:

  • Hiking
  • Photography
  • Wildlife observation
  • Geocaching
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross country skiing

Prohibited Activities:

  • 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, including bicycles
  • No hunting or trapping
  • No trespassing on adjacent land