Places We Protect

Two-Hearted River Forest Reserve


Bright red and orange maple leaves amongst the tree trunks of a forest.
Two Hearted River Forest Reserve The purchase of 23,338 acres in the Two-Hearted watershed is part of TNC's larger Northern Great Lakes Forest Project. © Ron Leonetti

Creating a model for forest restoration in the Great Lakes Basin.




The Two-Hearted River watershed is unique due to its diverse and high-quality terrestrial and aquatic systems.

A mature, unmanaged hardwood forest has several different types of trees with a range of size and age, the oldest reaching well over two feet in diameter and 150 or 200 years of age. The current forest is dominated primarily by one or two tree species, nearly all of which are less than 18 inches in diameter and less than 80-90 years old. With this lack of diversity in size, age and type of trees, the forest lacks important habitat attributes to support diverse plant and animal species.

TNC’s goal is to restore some of these older-forest characteristics to the property. Left alone, the forest will certainly continue to grow and eventually, after many decades, attain those characteristics. However, thinning the forest can increase the growth rate of remaining trees, so they attain larger sizes faster, and promote the regeneration of the uncommon trees to help improve diversity. Selling the harvested trees generates income for other conservation projects in the area and create jobs for the local economy.


With the two hearts, or branches of rivers, the Two Hearted River consists of sandy shorelines that make for great nature hikes and wildlife observation. A spot made famous by Ernest Hemingway, his story “Big Two-Hearted River” captures the essence of the area, telling the story of a man camping and fishing while reflecting on his life along the Michigan shores.




Unlike TNC's Preserves, the Reserve land is enrolled in the Commercial Forest Act, which means it is open to non-motorized public recreation, including hunting, fishing and snowshoeing.


23,318 acres

Explore our work in this region

TNC actively manages this property to improve its ecological health, including some carefully planned timber harvesting. Timber harvesting is not conducted on Preserve lands. We will have 1-2 harvests on the Reserve for the next 5-10 years.

Early May and late July through October are the best times to visit this preserve to take advantage of northern Michigan’s beauty while avoiding the biting insects. Come prepared with head netting and insect repellant when visiting this reserve, since the black flies and mosquitoes are as plentiful as the other species.

Permitted Activities

  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Trapping
  • Foot access for hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, etc.
  • Bird-watching
  • Educational studies
  • Geocaching
  • TNC has also partnered with the Tahquamenon Snowmobile Association to allow use of sections of an existing snowmobile trail that cross portions of the property.

Prohibited Activities

  • No motorized and non-motorized vehicles are allowed off of primary roads, including but not limited to automobiles, off-road vehicles (ORVs), all terrain vehicles (ATVs), motorcycles, snowmobiles, amphibious vehicles, and bicycles.
  • No cutting or removal of vegetation.
  • No transportation, handling, dumping, or disposal of liquid, solid, natural or man-made waste, refuse, or debris.
  • No camping, bonfires, fireworks or other fires.
  • No permanent ground blinds or tree stands.
A Good Cut The Nature Conservancy is taking a unique approach to restoring forests in Michigan's Upper Peninsula - by cutting them down.