When thinking about how to celebrate 35 years of protecting Leelanau, we wanted to do something that invites all trail lovers to immerse themselves in the beauty of Leelanau and forge a deeper connection with nature. A trail challenge is the perfect way to do just that. And with over 35 miles of trails throughout our natural areas, there’s room for adventure.
The Trail Challenge is simple. You have all of 2023 to complete 35 miles of hiking, biking, paddling, skiing, or snowshoeing in Leelanau Conservancy Natural Areas. Simply sign up on our website, log your miles, and turn in your log when you’re finished. When you’ve completed the challenge, we’ll send you a beautiful 35-year commemorative patch and sticker.
Challengers have several options other than hiking to achieve 35 miles. Mountain biking at Palmer Woods Forest Reserve and paddling the Cedar River Preserve count towards the challenge. Take a tip from our staff and paddle the Cedar River on a summer evening for cooler temperatures and gorgeous sunsets. Joining a docent hike or a volunteer workbee also counts!
Participating in this trail challenge is also a great way to unplug and get your body moving. Our trails are as different as our natural areas. You can find plenty of flat, easy hikes, as well as more challenging, hilly hikes. Your 35 miles are unique to you and can be done any way you choose. The Trail Challenge offers opportunity to explore a variety of Leelanau landscapes. From streams to wetlands, enchanting forests and serene lakeshores. Each trail promises unique sights and sounds that are nothing short of ethereal. In fact, we’ve already heard from folks who are working on the challenge or who have already completed it.
“Frankie, the Pug, is on a mission to get his miles in. He’s not fast and furious, but he’s consistent.” – Pam Neuman
“So many wonderful things along the way. Today, our last hikes of the challenge, we saw a glorious sight. We heard the call of the red shoulder hawk. In short order there were THREE red shoulder hawks playing directly above us in the sun. Their soaring and flipping and playing lasted for minutes and we were able to see their markings clearly with our binoculars. That was on Krumwiede. On Swanson, we spied a couple of golden crown kinglets flitting around branches playing. At Teichner, there were a number of ring-billed seagulls laughing and playing at the edge of some fast melting ice. This was the most fun challenge, EVER!!” – Bob and Kristin
“Muddy shoes, bald eagles, old stories, and many laughs.” – Kathy Wiley
“So many favorites! We saw beavers at Chippewa Run, great views from Clay Cliffs and Whaleback, lots of beautiful trillium and ramps. We experienced new trails that we hadn’t done before. We met great people along the way who told us of other areas to explore. It was a wonderful adventure!” – Anne
So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your bike, kayak or canoe, and let our natural areas be your Leelanau adventure.
Sign up for the challenge by clicking here.