Off the Beaten Path

A light dusting of snow covers a pine tree at the Ephraim Preserve at Anderson Pond. Photo by Sally Slattery.

I am selfishly reluctant to spread the word about these trails with you. They often offer the peace and quiet you won’t find in Door County’s popular state parks as well as some run-ins with wildlife, diverse landscapes, and historical points of interest.

These trails are short and sweet, free, and as to be expected – beautiful.

• Ephraim Preserve at Anderson Pond

10118 Moravia Street, Ephraim

I stumbled upon this Land Trust property last spring after relocating to quaint and tiny Ephraim. Six or seven walking sticks leaned against the opening of a fence made of stacked logs, beckoning use and entrance to the trail.

I explored the property then and there – journeying down a winding trail through pine trees, grassy clearings, and swampland. Frogs called, birds chirped, and mud clung to my walking shoes.

Since then I’ve returned many times to the trail that is just a hop, skip and a jump from where I live.

I’ve spotted a doe with two fawns, frogs and tadpoles, and twice a large gray owl I won’t even attempt to name lest I’m completely off. The owl swooped overhead, perhaps startled by my presence, and created a swooshing noise as he or she passed overhead.

The trail also features the remains of the Aslag Anderson Farm, thought be constructed in the1860s, as well as a kiosk with information about the farm and the family who lived there.

No matter the season, Toft Point offers a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. Photo by Sally Slattery.

• Toft Point

Toft Point Road, Baileys Harbor

You won’t find Toft Point if you’re not looking for it – the entrance to the preserve looks like a private driveway, feels like one too. What awaits is 750 acres of rugged wilderness nestled against Lake Michigan.

Tall balsam firs and white spruce trees canopy the trail that often boast trilliums come spring. A limestone beach sprayed by the waves hugs the park that offers a view of Baileys Harbor “Birdcage” Lighthouse and, of course, beautiful Lake Michigan.

I’ve also come across some wildlife on my many hikes at Toft Point including deer, garter snakes, and a porcupine.

The trail also journeys passed cabins that once made up a summer resort owned by Emma Toft, a conservationist who fought to keep Toft Point a wilderness preserve.

I recommend you check out these trails…and don’t tell too many friends!