Explore Baileys Harbor
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. Kangaroo lake is perfect for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, boating and spending lazy days beating the heat all summer long and freezes solid for ideal ice fishing in the winter.
The lake’s source is the spring-fed Peil Creek, which originates from a series of small springs in an unusual marl fen 5 miles upstream. Peil 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.
Mud Lake Wildlife Area
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.
The Ridges Sanctuary
In 1937, The Ridges Sanctuary became Wisconsin’s first land trust. For over 75 years, it has been an integral part of the rich, natural setting of the Baileys Harbor community and the Door County Peninsula.
Founded to preserve the original 40 acre parcel, The Ridges has grown thoughtfully and strategically to ensure the protection of the most biologically diverse ecosystem in Wisconsin. Between 1938 and 1946, the Sanctuary grew to 520 acres through land acquisitions from its membership. By our 50th anniversary in 1987, the membership had acquired an additional 480 acres, bringing the Sanctuary to a total of 1000 acres. Beginning in 1989, a combination of stewardship funds, grants and purchased or donated member land, resulted in the acquisition of critical areas affecting The Ridges and Logan Creek watersheds. In cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources and through Fish & Wildlife grants, we continue to identify and acquire small parcels of land within our designated project area. Today, with the support of over 1700 members in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the hard work of our staff and more than 200 committed volunteers, The Ridges permanently protects over 1600 acres of the most critical lands in our community.
The Sanctuary is named for its distinctive topography – aseries of 30 ridges and swales formed by the movement of Lake Michigan over the past 1400 years. This ridge-swale complex provides a wide range of environmental conditions, from open beach to densely shaded conifer forest. Nearly 500 different species of plants, including 25 species of native orchids, populate these varied habitats which are also home to over 60 species of breeding birds and 12 threatened or endangered species, including the federally endangered Hine’s Emerald dragonfly. Each year, we welcome thousands of visitors to these pristine acres where orchids continue to thrive along trails and boardwalks much as they did when these paths were first cleared by our founding members in 1938.
In recognition of its rich diversity, The Ridges Sanctuary has been designated as aWisconsin State Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service, a National Audubon Important Bird Area and a Wisconsin Wetland Gem.
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