The Three Springs Nature Preserve is what I’d consider “hidden in plain sight.” Only two miles outside of downtown Sister Bay, this beautiful preserve is a favorite of locals and a great place to get outside for a leisurely hike. Its full name is the Harold C. Wilson Three Springs Nature Preserve, and at 515 total acres, it’s one of the biggest Door County Land Trust purchases ever made.
The Door County Land Trust describes the preserve as big in both historical significance and ecological importance. It’s historical because it has cultural features such as old stone fences and farm buildings, and it’s ecological because – as its name indicates – it contains freshwater springs and a creek that runs through the land toward North Bay. The water and forest features provide a habitat for several endangered species such as the Hine’s emerald dragonfly, dwarf lake iris and showy lady’s slipper.
The hiking trail loops for 1.75 miles, meanders through forest and prairie, and includes a boardwalk with a scenic overlook near a shallow pond that’s fed by the springs. Most of the trail at the west side of the preserve is single-track, with twisting, gentle, rolling terrain, but one longer stretch is double-track and relatively flat, which may be appealing if you prefer an easy trail. The easy section goes directly south from the parking area, past the farm buildings, to the overlook.
Open year-round, the preserve is a gem in all seasons, but it can have some wet areas during the winter and spring. As for amenities, there’s a picnic table near the buildings and a bench in the pond area where hikers can sit to relax and enjoy the view.
Getting there: From Highway 42 in Sister Bay, turn east onto County ZZ and travel half a mile past the intersection of County ZZ and Old Stage Road. Turn right onto a gravel road with an address of 10442 Three Springs Road.