Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve is one of our favorite Northern Michigan treasures. From birding to wildflowers, this spot was made for May and springtime adventures.

Featured in the May 2021 issues of Traverse Magazine. Subscribe.

Nestled along the U.P.’s Dudley Bay just east of Cedarville, the 1,600-plus-acre Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve boasts five miles of Lake Huron frontage across four bays—including one of the most stunning limestone bedrock shorelines in the state—as well as two small islands, Big and Little Trout Lakes and parts of two creeks. This preserve—established in 1993 and protected by The Nature Conservancy—also covers a large expanse of contiguous forest to support migratory birds and safeguards rare plant and animal species.

The month of May is one of the best times to visit, as migratory songbirds are resting en route to other destinations or settling on breeding territories for the summer (four species of warblers breed here, including the American redstart and magnolia warbler). 

Birders have a good chance of spotting loons, pileated woodpeckers, ruby-throated hummingbirds, bald eagles and osprey. Spring also brings wildflowers—enjoy primrose, Calypso orchid, yellow lady’s slipper, butterwort, pitcher’s thistle and dwarf lake iris. For more info, including a guided audio tour, visit