Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve at Dudley Bay

Open to the Public


Things To Do

This land will be open for foot access and activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, bird watching, swimming and deer hunting by permit. View All

Plan Your Visit

Located in Mackinac and Chippewa Counties in the Upper Peninsula View All

Get Directions

A true representation of the Great Lakes, the 1,615-acre Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve contains five miles of shoreline across four bays on Lake Huron, two small islands, Big and Little Trout Lakes and parts of two creeks. The preserve offers a rich tapestry of intertwined habitats, including limestone shoreline, sand beach, two inland lakes, interdunal wetlands, conifer swamps and mixed hardwood forest. These habitats provide shelter to an abundance of endangered and threatened plant species such as Dwarf lake iris, Houghton's goldenrod and Pitcher's thistle. Visitors might also see a variety of animals including the loon, pileated woodpecker, osprey, wolf and several species of neotropical migratory songbirds such as the American redstart and magnolia warbler.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The goal is to protect a large expanse of contiguous forest on and near the Lake Huron shoreline to support migratory bird species and rare plant and animal species.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The preserve was created in 1993 through the generosity of Marilyn Twining and her family who, over a period of years, sold in a bargain sale the Conservancy the major parcels of land to protect them as the Little Trout Lake Preserve and the Dudley Bay Preserve.

In honor of a combined grant from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, the Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow Foundation and the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, the preserve was renamed in 1996 after Carl E. Gerstacker. Gerstacker was the former chairman of the board and director of The Dow Chemical Company as well as a founding member of the Conservancy’s Michigan board of trustees.

In 2010, the Conservancy purchased an additional 722 acres which includes most of Big Trout Lake and additional Lake Huron shoreline. The Conservancy also holds conservation easements on 215 acres near the preserve.

The month of May presents one of the best times of the year to visit this preserve as migratory songbirds are either resting, en route to other destinations, or settling on breeding territories for the summer. In mid-September, take a walk down the trail leading to Little Trout Lake and enjoy the spectacular beauty of an autumn day. Bring insect repellent, a hat and sunscreen. Please avoid trampling Pitcher’s thistle plants that may be along the beach. Most of them should be flagged to aid identification and awareness.

The Nature Conservancy allows hunting for white-tail deer on this preserve to reduce threats too many deer pose to our conservation targets. All hunters are required to receive a permit from the Conservancy as well as a Michigan deer hunting license. Additionally, hunters must report any deer taken from the preserve.

Permitted Activities:

  • Hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing
  • Bird watching, nature study and photography
  • Swimming
  • Geocaching
  • Kayaks and canoes are permitted on Lake Huron. Vessels must be carried from the parking area.
  • Research projects and educational studies with approved permit
  • Hunting with a Conservancy-issued permit for whitetail deer

Prohibited Activities:

  • No rock climbing and rappelling
  • No motorized and non-motorized vehicles
  • No building of new trails
  • No pets
  • No hunting or trapping without a Conservancy-issued permit
  • No removal of 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

Plan Your Visit
Please see "Preserve Visitation Guidelines."
Download a PDF version of this webpage for printing.


From Cedarville, Michigan:

  • From the intersection of M-134 and M-129, travel east on M-134 12.4 miles to the Conservancy preserve sign on the left (north side of the highway). For trail access, turn left on the small road next to the preserve sign. The road continues a short distance to the trailhead.
  • For lakeshore access, continue past the preserve sign for less than 1 mile to a large pulloff on the right (south) side of the highway. There is a second preserve sign here, and access by foot to Lake Huron.

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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