Hike in Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve
Photo by Maddy Schierl.
If you are looking for a hike to take you Little house in the meadow in the magical fairy woods less than three miles away, the Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve is the perfect place to start.
The 2.5 mile loop through this Door County Land Trust property begins in flat fields of windswept grass. The open fields stretch out like a carpet in the distance, punctuated by groves of young trees, and end at the foot of the cliffs that dominate the landscape. As you make your way towards the cliffs the forests gradually thicken with sugar maples, beeches and red oaks. The trail begins to climb along the cliffs and the cool, humid atmosphere provides a refreshing contrast to the exposure of the open fields.
The difficulty increases slightly as the trail climbs the cliffs which, being part of the Niagara Escarpment, run the length of the reserve. The trail climbs steeply until the forests clear up and you come out into a clearing along the cliffs, about 200 feet above Green Bay. Take a break to admire the spectacular view from two benches that face the water.
The trail continues from the edge of the cliffs into the forest, rising slightly in elevation in several areas. The cliffs provide a highly specialized habitat for many plant and animal species. Eight species of orchids, for example, including the ram’s-headed babouche, which is on the state’s endangered species list, grow along this hike. Bay Shore Blufflands is also home to land snails that are on the federal endangered species list.
In early summer, white trilliums and other spring mayflies such as delicate anemones line the trail, and lacy woodland blue forget-me-nots are easy to spot against the lush green background of mosses and ferns. Although maps and blue arrows are displayed intermittently along the trail, it sometimes branches off without warning. To avoid confusion, print a map from doorcountylandtrust.org before you go to keep it handy while you enjoy your ride. Overall this hike ranges from easy during the level portions to moderate during elevation changes.