Tucked away along the western edge of Marquette is the lush Vielmetti-Peters Conservation Reserve, a 123-acre working forest with about 3.5 miles of trails to roam.

Managed sustainably by the Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy, the forest is home to a diverse ecosystem including small waterfalls along Midway and Spring creeks on their way to the Dead River, which in turn, flows into Lake Superior. “It’s kind of this perfect example of how a watershed works,” says Andrea Denham, the conservancy’s executive director.

The forested trail system includes three loops: The Green Trail, West Loop and Waterfalls Loop, which showcase a variety of terrain types. The reserve is open for passive recreation during daylight hours (please leave pets at home).

This July, natural areas across the state are participating in a month-long “BioBlitz,” including Vielmetti-Peters Conservation Reserve. Visitors to the reserve can download the iNaturalist app (or the Seek app, which is geared toward kids) and use it to document the plants and wildlife they observe. Denham says this data will be utilized by the conservancy to inform its sustainable forestry program. Find details about the first BioBlitz webinar, slated for Tuesday, June 29, on the conservancy’s Facebook.

Photo by Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy

UP Land Conservancy is also in the midst of fundraising for a planned expansion of the Vielmetti-Peters property. Denham says their aim is to purchase 161 acres of land north of the reserve—a “phenomenal” area that’s in need of some restoration work. “This whole area is just stunning—it feels like the Porcupine Mountains,” she says. As of May, Denham said about $80,000 of the $318,000 had been raised, and the conservancy was also waiting to hear about grant funding they applied for. Those interested in donating to the cause can do so online.

Get there: From Marquette, take US-41 N. toward Negaunee. Take the first right out of the Brickyard Road roundabout, toward Meijer. Rather than heading straight to Meijer, take an immediate left to continue on Brickyard Road and travel about a quarter-mile to the end of the road. You’ll see a sign and a county plow turn-around. Park on the pavement and continue on a two-track trail easement for a half-mile to the reserve.

Photo(s) by Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy