Leelanau Conservancy Docent Led Hikes: Get out into to the dunes, wetlands and forests of the breathtaking Leelanau Peninsula and make the most of spring and summer in Northern Michigan!

Sunday, April  22th  2pm Earth Day and Raptors at Lighthouse West Natural Area

Earth Day Special: Check out kettle-ling raptors and long distant avian migrants. Join docents Ann McInnis, July Smart, and Ed Arnfield along with birders Ed and Linda Ketterer in, hopefully, sighting raptors and other early migrating birds as they rest, fuel up, and wait for good winds to aid them in their Northern bound flight across Lake Michigan.  Along with birds there will be much to see at this Tip of the Peninsula natural area.  Don’t forget binoculars.

Saturday, April 28th  10am Discover Teichner Preserve

Join us for a walk on the Teichner Boardwalk. Marvel at how the wetlands have reconnected. Listen for the sounds of spring. If you have time, walk across the road with Sharon Oriel  and Jack Schultz to give the ancient chestnut a hug.

Saturday, May 5th  10am Swanson Preserve Exploration

Why is the Swanson Preserve a Preserve? Join docents Sharon Oriel, Tom Dunfee, and Judy Smart to learn about the wetlands that keep Little Traverse Lake healthy. If Farmer Ben Brown has time, he will tell us about his plans for the farmstand and poultry.

Thursday, May 10th , 10am How Our Landscapes  Impact Birds, Butterflies, and Other Wild Creatures

This program will be held at the Leelanau Government and Community Center (on M-204 near Suttons Bay). Join Matthew Bertrand of the Grand Traverse Conservation District and Fields Ratliff from the Leelanau Conservancy for an inspiring exploration into how our landscapes impact the wild creatures around us, focusing on how native plants support birds and butterflies. You’ll also learn how partners in the Grand Traverse Regional Invasive Species Network (ISN) are working to keep our region’s natural areas healthy, and what we need from you to be successful in the effort. Registration is required so please call 231-256-9665 or send an email to fratliff@theconservancy.com to participate. $5 suggested donation. This is a program of the 2012 Plant Heritage Week recommended for adults and is presented by the Leelanau Conservancy.

Friday, May 11th, 10am Docent hike at Kehl Lake Natural Area

Make first-hand observations of a complex, healthy, diverse forest ecosystem abundant with spring ephemeral wildflowers, and contrast that with a recovering formerly-farmed homestead ecosystem. The Kehl Lake Natural area in the tip of Leelanau Peninsula offers a rich cultural and natural history offers a look into what factors have shaped this unique and diverse landscape. Registration is required so please call 231-256-9665 or send an email to fratliff@theconservancy.com to participate.  This is a program of the 2012 Plant Heritage Week recommended for adults and is presented by the Leelanau Conservancy.

Saturday, May 12th at 2pm Discover Belanger Creek Preserve

Ready to go off the path for a new hiking adventure?  Wanting to experience nature's beauty in a pristine setting?  Join docents Judy Hoeffler and Jack Schultz at Belanger Creek at this "must see" location, complete with upland hardwood climax forest, huge aspen trees, and lowland forests with majestic white pines and hemlocks.  Bring suitable footgear; there are some steep slopes to traverse and may be some wet spots to cross along the creek.

Sunday, May 13th, 2 pm Docent hike at Houdek Dunes Natural Area: Wildlife Mother’s Day Special

Join docent Ann McInnis to learn about flora and fauna moms and their strategies for insuring the perpetuation of their species. Discover fabulous springtime wildflowers, nesting birds, lots of animal activities and much more as you explore the diverse wildlife habitats found within 350 acre Houdek Dunes Natural Area. Registration is required so please call 231-256-9665 or send an email to fratliff@theconservancy.com to participate. This is a program of the 2012 Plant Heritage Week and is presented by the Leelanau Conservancy. Recommended for all ages.

Saturday, May 19th  8am Spring Birding at Chippewa Run

Join birding experts Alice Van Zoeren and Don McNew for our annual spring birding expedition at Chippewa Run.  This Leelanau Conservancy Natural Area is outstanding for spotting a great variety of birds because of its diverse habitats. Bring your binoculars for this special event.  Beginning birders welcome, this is a fun and educational event for the whole family. Lou Ricord, Leelanau Conservancy docent, will provide an introduction to this Natural Area and answer questions along the way.

Saturday, May 19th   9am Lighthouse West Natural Area: Warblers, Wildflowers, Water, and Wonder!

This hike is a partnership hike with Saving Birds Thru Habitat. Observe migrating warblers and other birds who will be gleaning newly emerging insects to fuel their flight across Lake Michigan or feed their already hatched hungry youngsters. Wildflowers will be blooming in profusion to entice pollinators while Lake Michigan waters will be hosting new generations of fish attracting hungry shore birds. Join SBTH Director Kay Charter along with docents Ann McInnis and birders Ed and Linda Ketterer ..and bring binoculars. During our hike we will also wander over to the Leelanau State Park as well as an adjacent private property protected by a conservation easement.

Sunday May 27th   2pm     Houdek Dunes’ Profusion of Pink Lady Slipper Orchids
This hike at Houdek should not be missed as the Pink Lady Slipper orchids (Moccasin flowers) will be offering their amazing profusion of flowering activity in order to attract their special pollinators. The many different habitats at Houdek reflect the slowly changing nature of  succession of dune landscapes, expose the glacial history of Leelanau, and especially offer multiple wildlife viewing opportunities. Join Ann McInnis, Judy Hoeffler, and Holly Pharmer in exploring and enjoying this very special natural area.

Saturday, June 9th   10am
Lamont Preserve, Nature’s Library of Flora and Fauna
Check out this little 40-acre jewel of mostly native woodland and wetlandspecies of flora and fauna with docents Ann McInnis and Marsha Buehler. Due to a young boy’s love of Leelanau and his visionary-thinking friends and relatives, this important connection with the Conservancy’s Trans-peninsula wildlife corridor project will insure a safe haven in perpetuity for a myriad of creatures in his memory.
Saturday, June 16th 10am   
Lighthouse West Natural Area: A Walk Back In Time
  Observe the impact of past glaciers on Leelanau landscapes. Changing lake levels, shoreline benches, large glacial erratics are some of the evidence of past glacial activity which you will see. Join docents Ann McInnis and Sharon Oriel in this prelude-to-summer exploration of this natural area and discover its special importance for birds and other wildlife specials.

Sunday, June 17th  10am Teichner Preserve Hike

It's prime time for yellow flag iris and showy lady slippers to be blooming. Learn about this property donated by and beloved by CBS Newswoman Martha Teichner. Travel the boardwalk over wetlands to the shores of Lime Lake walk up the hill and visit hardwood upland forest and the more-than-100-year old American Chestnut Tree with Docents Ann Mason and Tom Dunfee.

Saturday, June 23rd 1pm Early Wildflower Hunt at Chippewa Run

Join Conservancy docents Lou Ricord, Ann Mason, and Dave Amos as they wander this southern county natural area in search of spring wildflowers. Within its preserved 110-acres, Chippewa Run has wetlands, streams and ponds, old fields, red pine and spruce/fir stands, hardwoods, and an old apple orchard making this an excellent area for wildflowers. Last year's list included trillium, violets, spring beauty, Dutchman's breeches, squirrel-corn, trout-lily, jack-in-the-pulpit, gaywings and others. Also, there will be many birds to spot and identify so you might want to bring a set of binoculars.

     Saturday, June 30   10am
Kehl Lake Natural Area: Discover Nature’s Richness
  Make discoveries during a hike with docents Ann McInnis and Jack Shultz at this biologically rich natural area.  Summer’s profusion of interrelating plants and animals will be seen in the meadows, old growth woodland, wetlands, and lake habitats. Be especially ready with your questions to learn about the tallest of plants….trees…from Jack, our tree specialist.  

Sunday, July 1st, 1pm DeYoung Farm—Inside and Outside!

Visit the historic DeYoung Farm to see Cedar Lake and tour inside the old farm buildings, including the house. Hear the history of the farm as it grew with the Traverse City region, including the DeYoung story (and the Campbells before them) and learn how plans for the farm are progressing. Docents Dave Amos and Judy Smart will meet you in the parking lot by the barn.

Sunday, July 8th  2pm Swanson Preserve Exploration

Summer time at the Swanson Preserve is a busy time. Docents Sharon Oriel, Ann Mason, and Holly Pharmer will take you behind the scenes at this special place.

Saturday, July 14th, 10am Houdek Dunes Natural Area: Coyotes, Cougars, and Bears, Oh My!

Are these Leelanau wild residents to be feared for “friended”?  Join docents Ann McInnis and Tom Dunfee to learn some facts about these and other local wild animals with whom we share this  marvelous peninsula  and discover their role in keeping this entire landscape healthy. Also we will explore the special attributes of dunes as they slowly revert to forested woodland.

Saturday, July  21st 10am Kehl Lake Natural Area Hike

Discover some of Leelanau’s cultural and natural history with docents Ann McInnis and Marsha Buehler. Have fun learning about the inter connections between the human history of this area with the rich natural community of plants, animals and their habitats.

If you plan to attend please call the Leelanau Conservancy to register: 231.256.9665 or email info@leelanauconservancy.org. Hikes usually last about 2 hours and are free. Directions and maps may be found on the Conservancy’s website: leelanauconservancy.org. No dogs on Docent led hikes please; please note there are no rest rooms at most Conservancy natural areas.