Snowshoeing Leelanau County is glorious in a Northern Michigan winter and the Leelanau Conservancy makes it easy all winter long with these seven guided hikes in their beautiful natural areas. Put them on your calendar!

Snowshoe Holiday Hike at Clay Cliffs

Friday, December 27 at 10:00 am

Clay-Cliffs, Leelanau County

Join Leelanau Conservancy staffers Matt Heiman, Sarah Cook, and Leslee Spraggins for a hike of this majestic property just north of Leland. Although you are welcome to explore the property on your own (it is now owned by Leland Township), taking a tour with one of the Conservancy staffers is the best way to see the property at this time because there is no formal trail system or parking area.  Snowshoes are highly recommended if there are six or more inches of snow on the ground.  The climb may be slippery: walking or ski poles are a good idea. Meet at the Leelanau Conservancy office at 105 N. First Street in Leland and participants will carpool from the office. Sign up here.

Early Winter at Kehl Lake Natural Area

Friday, December 27 at 1:00 pm

Ed-Reinert at Kehl-Lake-Leelanau County

Kehl Lake Natural Area is a gift in any season, but especially so as a respite from holiday hustle and bustle. Join Leelanau Conservancy docents Marsha Buehler and Peter Wolcott and enjoy the peace of the winter woods. Take a deep breath  – and keep a lookout for signs of winter wildlife. If there is fresh snow, bring your snowshoes.
Sign up here!

Swanson Preserve Hike

Saturday, December 28 at 10:00 am

Swanson Preserve Boardwalk Leelanau County

Leelanau Conservancy docents JoAnne Gerben, Holly Pharmer, and Sharon Oriel lead the way through the beauty of the Swanson Preserve’s winter landscape.  Huge white pines, cedars, and tamaracks will be covered in snow and be sure to look for tracks of the preserve’s winter inhabitants.  The views at the edge of Little Traverse Lake should be beautiful and serene.  Walking through the Swanson Preserve covered in snow is the perfect way to appreciate its ecological importance and natural beauty every season of the year. Sign up here!

Visit the Clay Cliffs in Winter

Sunday, January 12 at 1 pm


Enjoy the fantastic views of Lakes Leelanau and Michigan at this stunning location just north of Leland in the quiet of winter.  The terrain varies from wooded to open meadows, more woods and then the expansive view of Lake Michigan with the Manitou Islands. On a clear day, Fox Island is also visible. Bring your snowshoes, hiking poles and be on the lookout for signs of wildlife as you join Leelanau Conservancy Docents Mary Petterson, Sharon Oriel, Janet Ward, and Peter Wolcott.
Directions: From Leland, drive 2.2 miles north on M-22.  Slow down when you pass McLeod Drive.  A docent or staff person will be along M-22 to show you the two-track pull-off.  If you see the private drive, Yellowbirch Drive, you have gone too far north. There is no formal parking area, so be prepared to drive up a short, bumpy two-track or park on the shoulder of M-22.  NOTE:  The Leland Township and Leelanau Conservancy hope to have a parking area and trails open in the spring of 2014.  
Sign up here!

Winter Wildlife at Houdek Dunes

Saturday, January 18 at 10:00 am

Houdek Dunes Leelanau County

Ann McInnis and Holly Pharmer, Leelanau Conservancy docents, will lead a guided walk in Houdek Dunes, a 330-acre natural area north of Leland.  Experience winter in Michigan’s North Country and discover clues to the myriad wildlife activities occurring daily in this natural area.  You’ll look for evidence of some of the unique species in this place, all of which contribute to the richness of Leelanau’s ecosystems.  Snowshoes would be advisable if there is a lot of snow. Sign up here!

Winter on Lighthouse West

Sunday, January 19 at 2:00 pm

Lighthouse West, Leelanau County

Join Leelanau Conservancy Ed Ketterer and Janet Ward to experience what winter looks and feels like at the tip of the peninsula. Due to its location, Lighthouse West is in what can be characterized as a “high energy” environment. Explore how the effects of winter transform the property, including the shoreline. Look for signs of winter animal activity. If there’s good snow on the ground on the day of the hike, participants are welcome to bring snowshoes (cross country skis are not recommended for this event). Sign up here!

Chippewa Run: Dressed Up for Winter

Saturday, January 25 at 1:00 pm


Chippewa Run Natural Area in Empire is stunning in dressed up in snow!  Join Leelanau Conservancy docents Lou Ricord and JoAnne Gerben for a brisk snowshoe: the idea will be to keep moving in the bracing weather, but there will be stops along the way to answer questions about how animals and plants survive winter in this natural area’s many habitats. The hike will last about an hour. Bring snowshoes, boots, hats, mittens and winter coats. Please note: Since the parking lot off M-22 will be snowbound, park and begin the hike at Empire’s recycling center on Fisher St off Lacore St.
Sign up here!

DeYoung Snowshoe Hike

Saturday, February 15 at 2:00 pm

DeYoung Natural Area, Leelanau County

Leelanau Conservancy docents Dave Amos, Lou Ricord and JoAnne Gerben lead a hike on the new uplands trails at the DeYoung Farm.  This is a great trail for snow shoeing across fields and through woods, with a nice view of the farm and vista to the east.  The hike will start and end at the parking spot off of Strang Road.  The road is just a ¼ mile north and west of the DeYoung barn and parking is a similar distance once you’ve made the turn onto Strang. Sign up here!

Tracking Adventure at Kehl Lake Natural Area

Sunday, February 16 at 2:00 pm


Did you think nothing goes on in the wintertime in nature?  Guess again. Join Leelanau Conservancy docents Ann McInnis, Ed Ketterer, and Peter Wolcott for a tracking adventure to discover the myriad wintertime activities of our resident wildlife at Kehl Lake.  Read the stories told by tracks and traces, nibbles and nips, sounds and sights–to learn about wildlife survival strategies at this high quality Conservancy natural area.  Snowshoes are be advisable if there is a lot of snow. Sign up here!

Houdek Dunes Winter Wonderland

Saturday, February 22 at 1:00 pm

Houdek Dunes, Leelanau County

Snap on your snowshoes and head for the hills — the hills of Houdek Dunes, that is!  Enjoy the beauty of a winter wonderland along the paths of Houdek Dunes.  See how the snows and winds of winter sculpt the trees and surrounding hills onto an intricate canvas of seasonal forms and colors.  The hike will last between 90 minutes and two hours and will include a hilly walk. Join Leelanau Conservancy docents Judy Hoeffler, Sharon Oriel and Janet Ward for this hike. Sign up here!