Belanger Creek Preserve
Belanger Creek Preserve at a Glance
birding, challenging terrain, uphill climbs, guided tours, hiking, no trails, best seen on a guided hike, stream(s), wildflowers
68 Acres, Preserved in 1992
Year Preserved: 1992
Trail: no trail system, best seen on a guided hike
Belanger Creek is an Ecological Powerhouse near Suttons Bay, with 2, 800 Feet of Stream Corridor: Habitat Extraordinaire. A floristic survey conducted here documented an astounding 170 species, including 30 wildflowers. Come spring, the steep hillsides are full of trillium while sunny marsh marigolds line over a half-mile of protected stream frontage. Three ecosystems host songbirds and raptors, fox and deer. A rich conifer swamp with giant cedars, an old field that is a leftover relic from farming, and a beech-sugar maple, hemlock forest are all present. Six seeps and 11 springs feed into Belanger Creek, and the surrounding 5,600 acres all drain into the stream. Needless to say, protecting Belanger Creek is integral to the health of Grand Traverse Bay.
Docent-led Hikes at Belanger Creek
Belanger Creek Preserve contains no trail system. We recommend that you see it on one of our docent lead hikes. Visit our Hikes and Events page to find out about upcoming hikes on our Natural Areas.
A note of caution: walking through the lowland near Belanger Creek can be difficult because of fallen trees and stream crossings. Using walking sticks may help. Beware that because we do not have established trails we are likely to encounter situations that are challenging. The steep ridge separating the lowland from the hardwood forest can present some challenges. Docents will always try to choose paths that offer less difficulty than others, but some challenging areas cannot be avoided.
Directions for those who have signed up for Docent-led hike: Take Putnam Road west from M-22 at the northern boundary of Peshawbestown. Go west for about a half mile and then turn left onto Peshawbestown Road. Go west for about another half mile and then park on the right-hand side of the road just before it crosses Belanger Creek.”
Natural Wonders Abound
Brown and brook trout swim under a lowland canopy of hemlock, cedar, and white pine. There are yellow birches, too, whose bark yields a sharp wintergreen taste. Upland you find hardwood climax forest, including ash, sugar maple, and basswood. Look for shaggy-barked ironwood in the under story. Ironwoods are very tolerant trees, able to survive in low-light conditions. They are short-lived and seldom reach a diameter exceeding eight inches.
Unlike the ironwood, aspen require a sunny habitat. They are one of the first species to pop up in a new forest. The huge stands of aspen in these woods are clones, sharing a root system and identical genes. As natural forest succession occurs, aspen will die leaving no viable offspring, because the canopy will not allow in enough sun for aspen saplings to survive.
Creatures such as weasels, badgers, minks, porcupines, ruffed grouse, and snowshoe hares revel in the shady understory. Higher up, a lucky observer might see indigo buntings or barred owls. One hike may turn up 30 species of wildflowers, from the yellow lady’s-slipper to the innocuous goldthread, which hides its thin, bright roots underground. Catch the cotton falling from the sky—white hairs protect dispersing aspen seeds.
- Brown and brook trout in Belanger Creek
- Hemlock, cedar, white pine, yellow birches, aspen, ironwood
- Yellow lady’s slipper, gold thread, striped trillium
- Indigo bunting, barred owl
Plants at Belanger Creek
A Belanger FQA and Summary is available here. The FQA, or Floristic Quality Assessment, tells the story of the types and quality of flora at Belanger Creek Preserve.
Poison Ivy is commonly found on impacted areas. Keep an eye out for this three leafed groundcover for it can give you an itchy rash. If your skin comes in contact with ivy, wash that area with soap a.s.a.p. Stay on the trails to reduce risk of contact.
Note that there are no trails at Belanger Creek Preserve. It is recommended you only visit during docent lead hikes.