The Ridges Sanctuary is a 1,600 acre pristine natural area located in Door County, Wisconsin. Formed in 1937, it’s the oldest private nature preserve in the state. The Ridges is designated as a State Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark, an Audubon Important Birding Area, and a Wisconsin Wetland Gem.
The Sanctuary is open to the public year-round, and features native wildflowers along its five miles of rustic trails and bridges. Naturalist-led tours, youth and family programs, and a weekly lecture series highlight the summer season. Snowshoe hikes and family programs are featured during January, February and March. The Nature Center featuring a wide variety of quality nature-related books and gifts, is open mid-May through mid-October. More about THE RIDGES SANCTUARY
Kangaroo Lake lies in a basin ½ mile from the Lake Michigan coast and contains a mosaic of communities including a shallow, marl-bottom lake, northern upland forest, northern wet-mesic forest and marsh. While marl lakes are relatively common throughout Door County, undeveloped ones such as Kangaroo Lake are exceptionally rare. The lake's source is the spring-fed Piel Creek, which originates from a series of small springs in an unusual marl fen 5 miles upstream. Piel Creek and the surrounding wetlands provide critical habitat for the federally endangered Hine's emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana). This is one of only two known reproducing populations in the country. Lowland forest of white cedar, black ash, tamarack, black spruce, and balsam fir surround the north end of the lake, which is ringed by floating sedge mats. Characteristic shrubs include speckled alder, willows, and meadowsweet. Canada yew, a declining Wisconsin species, is found along a peninsula of the north basin. Common herbs are three-leaved gold-thread, dewberry, naked miterwort, and American starflower. A dolomite plateau with numerous crevices and areas of exposed bedrock contains a forest dominated by sugar maple, beech, white birch, and red oak with a rich diversity of spring wildflowers. Numerous other rare and endangered species are present including the state and federally threatened dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris), the dorcas copper butterfly (Lycaena dorcas), bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), osprey (Pandion haliatus), and Caspian tern (Sterna caspia). The marsh also provides important breeding and migratory habitat for black terns, sandhill cranes, and many species of waterfowl. A causeway built in the late 1800's separates Kangaroo Lake into two distinct parts - a highly developed southern portion and the northern end, which has almost completely escaped development due to the extensive wetlands. Kangaroo Lake is owned by The Nature Conservancy and the Door County Land Trust and was designated a State Natural Area in 2002.
Directions: From Baileys Harbor, go south on State Highway 57 about 1 mile, then west on County Highway E 1 mile to a small parking area on the north side of the road. To access the western part of the natural area, go west on Highway E another 0.9 mile to the intersection of Logerquist Road, then continue north on E 0.25 mile. Park along the road. A trail leads east into the site. The wetlands are best viewed by canoe. Put in at the east end of the Highway E. See the TNC website for hunting opportunities: The Nature Conservancy
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Daily
$10.00 - Adult admission, includes island, keeper's quarters & tower
$7.00 - Youth admission, includes island, keeper's quarters & tower
Walk across the rock causeway from the Door County mainland to the island (due to current Lake Michigan levels, the causeway is dry; no wading is necessary - although proper footwear is recommended). Step inside the Keepers' House where, beginning in 1869, the first of a number of lighthouse keepers tended to the light which guided sailors and protected them from the dangerous shoals extending out from the island into Lake Michigan. Take a look in the Oil House, where fuel for the light was stored prior to days when electricity came to the island.
The buildings and grounds have been maintained by the Door County Maritime Museum for nearly 30 years while the United State Coast Guard continues to oversee the tower with its stunning third order Fresnel lens and light. The island was conveyed to the County of Door on May 18, 2007. The lighthouse is located north of Baileys Harbor off County Highway Q.
A WORD ABOUT GETTING THERE:
Please know that the lighthouse is located at the end of a narrow, rustic road that transits a residential area. Please obey all posted Speed Limits, watch for children and pets, and be courteous to Cana Island neighbors. Parking is an issue; space is extremely limited. Do NOT park on or block residents' yards or driveways, be careful of rustic fences lining property, and do not litter. Please remember to drive slowly and cautiously as you leave the Island, as well.
- Lighthouse Staff reserves right to restrict size of group and limit time allotted at top
- Tower may close without notice due to weather and/or other safety issues
- Pregnant women and people with claustrophobia are not encouraged to climb
- Parents may not carry young children
- Must be 42" tall to climb
- Open-toed shoes strongly discouraged
- Last tower climb of day will be at 4:30PM
Toft Point contains several outstanding native plant communities concentrated on a 1-mile-wide peninsula along Door County's Lake Michigan coast. The natural area is bordered on the north by Moonlight Bay, and on the south by Baileys Harbor. There are more than two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, with areas of wave-cut dolomite cliffs. Stretches of limestone cobble beach, mixed with marly soil, are exposed during periods of low lake levels. The vegetation of the eastern shoreline, influenced by the cooling effects of Lake Michigan, consists of a narrow strip of relict boreal forest dominated by balsam fir and white spruce. The majority of the peninsula is wooded with a mesic forest of sugar maple, yellow birch, hemlock, balsam fir, and scattered white pine. To the north, along Moonlight Bay, is an extensive calcareous sedge meadow that grades into shrub-carr and wet-mesic forest dominated by white cedar with occasional paper birch and black ash. Pockets of tamarack swamp and alder thicket are imbedded in the wetland. Extensive stands of hard-stemmed bulrush grow offshore in 1 to 4 feet of water offering cover and spawning sites for a variety of fish. The natural area provides habitat for more than 440 vascular plant species and one of the most diverse bryophyte (mosses and liverworts) floras in the state. Several orchid taxa and many rare plant species find refuge here. Toft Point, along with the adjacent Ridges Sanctuary, contains many area-sensitive bird species including seventeen species of nesting warblers. The site is named for Kersten Toft who received the land as compensation for his work at a limestone quarry nearby. Remaining on site is an historic kiln, which is the state’s best intact example of the early circular kilns that once dotted parts of the Niagara escarpment. Toft Point is owned by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. The site is recognized by the National Park Service as a National Natural Landmark and was designated a State Natural Area in 1967.
Directions: From the intersection of State Highway 57 and Ridges Road on the north end of Baileys Harbor, go east on Ridges Road about 1.4 miles, then north on an access lane at fire number 8380 to a parking area. Or, continue southeast on Ridges Road 1.1 miles, then east on Point Drive 1.2 miles to its end. For available hunting opportunities, visit The Nature Conservancy's website: The Nature Conservancy
Mud Lake Wildlife Area is a 2,290 acre property located in northeastern Door County near Moonlight Bay. The property consists of a 155-acre shallow (maximum depth 5 feet) drainage lake surrounded by an extensive shrub and timber swamp. Immediately surrounding the open water is a narrow zone of shrubby northern sedge meadow dominated by sedges, willows, dogwoods, and sweet gale. The wetlands and lake provide habitat for the federally-endangered Hine's emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana) among many other wildlife and plant species. The open zone grades into second-growth wet-mesic forest of white cedar, white spruce, balsam fir, and black ash. This is an example of boreal forest habitat which a rare community type to be found in Wisconsin. As a result records of boreal forest species such as Common Goldeneye have been documented to nest on the property which is rare in Wisconsin.