West Michigan, U.P. preserves highlight TNC’s must-visit destinations as summer winds down

Cap off summer with memorable trips to mountains, beaches or rare coastal plain marshes

The view of a forest and bright blue lake from the top of Mt. Baldy at the Helmut and Candis Stern Preserve in the Upper Peninsula.
Scenic Hike at Mt. Baldy Take a hike at the Helmut & Candis Stern Preserve at Mt. Baldy in Eagle Harbor, Michigan. This strenuous six-mile hike comes with an incredible view of Lake Superior. © Mary Louks/TNC

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Michiganders looking to squeeze every bit out of summer before school starts have plenty of options for outdoor adventures, including visits to some of The Nature Conservancy in Michigan’s (TNC) most popular preserves – some of which are off the beaten path.

 “TNC is proud to own and manage nearly 80,000 acres at preserves throughout the lower and upper peninsulas, which means we have something for every interest and skill level – from hikers looking to scale a mountain to families who want a day at the beach,” said Helen Taylor, state director for TNC in Michigan. “While flipping the calendar over to August can signal summer vacation is winding down, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors.”

Top summer activities at TNC preserves include:

  • Trekking to the top of “lookout mountain,” also known as Mt. Baldy at the Helmut & Candis Stern Preserve, which sits 730 feet above Lake Superior. You might spot black bear, snowshoe hare, peregrine falcon, ruffed grouse, golden-crowned kinglet, black-throated green warbler and yellow-rumped warbler on the six-mile roundtrip hike.
  • Lounging at the beaches at Bete Grise Wetlands Preserve in Bete Grise or Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve at Dudley Bay. Bete Grise Wetlands Preserve boasts nearly one and a half miles of high-quality sand beach along Lake Superior. The Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve features five miles of beautiful shoreline across four bays on Lake Huron, two small islands, Big and Little Trout Lakes, and parts of two creeks.
  • Hiking Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve, which offers a diverse landscape of forested back-dunes, wetlands, ponds, and rare coastal plain marshes. You can experience it all along more than five miles of trails where you’ll come across reptiles and amphibians around the coastal plain marshes and small ponds on the preserve. Keep a lookout for a red fox and coyote too. You’ll also come across what remains of the Ross family’s vacation house, which overlooks a small lake on the preserve.

Audio tours are available for several of TNC’s preserves, including the Helmut & Candis Stern Preserve and Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve at Dudley Bay and Ross Coastal Plain Marsh, allowing outdoor lovers to learn as they go – or from afar.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. The Nature Conservancy is working to make a lasting difference around the world in 77 countries and territories (41 by direct conservation impact and 36 through partners) through a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on X.