Places We Protect

Two-Hearted River Forest Reserve


Aerial view of a forest of yellow-tipped trees among green trees in the Two-Hearted River Forest Reserve.
Two-Hearted River The Two-Hearted River Forest was made famous by Ernest Hemingway. © Drew Kelly

Creating a model for forest restoration in the Great Lakes Basin at Two-Hearted River Forest Reserve.



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

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.




Pets are not permitted.


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 Michigan

Photos from Two-Hearted River Forest Reserve

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

Two black bears in a forest clearing.
A trail through a forest. The sun shines through the trees.
The crimson leaves of a pitcher plant.
A measuring tape wraps around a tree trunk.

Plan Your Visit

Frequently Asked Questions

  • This reserve is open year round. Early May and late July through October are the best times to visit this reserve 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.

    • 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 (see permitted activities), 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.
  • The Nature Conservancy has multiple Upper Peninsula properties enrolled as Commercial Forest Lands in the State of Michigan. On these properties, TNC employs a conservation strategy that includes sustainable timber harvesting to demonstrate managing forests in a way that promotes ecological values and reaps direct economic benefits.

    The Commercial Forest Act provides public access for hunting and fishing, but does not allow motor vehicle access, camping, tree cutting, structures or other related activities. View our guidelines for hunting on reserves.

  • Have questions about the preserve? Contact us at

A forester stands in a forest and examines a tree.
Two-Hearted River Forest TNC actively manages this property to improve its ecological health, including some carefully planned timber harvesting. © Drew Kelly


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.


Forest Restoration in Action

A Good Cut (3:33) The Nature Conservancy is taking a unique approach to restoring forests in Michigan's Upper Peninsula—by cutting them down.

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From shifting sand dunes to granite bald mountains, explore our preserves and reserves spread across the state of Michigan.

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