Open Spaces and Wild Places

Wildflowers fill the prairie in the picturesque valley that makes up the 190-acre Door County Land Trust preserve. Photo by Julie Schartner.

The 190-acre Oak Road Wetlands Nature Preserve is situated northeast of Carlsville where Sunnyslope and Oak Roads converge in a picturesque valley filled with rolling hills, teeming wetlands, fields bordered by woodlands, and the appearance of an occasional barn and farm house. The major feature of this nature preserve is the extensive vernal wetland that fills with water each spring and becomes an annual stopping point for migrating waterfowl and breeding amphibians. When the marsh fills with water, the spring peepers are so abundant and loud that neighbors find it hard to sleep at night!

The wetlands at the Oak Road Preserve act as a tributary to both Green Bay and Lake Michigan as waters flow in both directions. When water levels are high, runoff flows north through surface channels to neighboring properties, including the Land Trust’s nearby Lautenbach Woods Nature Preserve, down the escarpment bluff and on into Green Bay. When wetland levels drop, it is believed that the water seeps through fissures into the groundwater and travels south into Whitefish Creek toward Lake Michigan’s Whitefish Bay.

The Door County Land Trust is celebrating 25 years of preserving Door County’s finest open spaces and wild places. Over the course of the summer and fall, this column will feature one of the special places the Land Trust is working to protect.

The Door County Land Trust is challenging people to visit all of the places featured in this column. People are encouraged to email [email protected] when they accomplish this feat and to have their name entered into a drawing to win a copy of the Land Trust’s Guide to the Places We Protect due to be published this fall. To view previous columns, to make a contribution of support and to download preserve trail maps, visit

Just the Facts: Door County Land Trust’s Oak Road Nature Preserve, Carlsville

Acres protected: 190

Miles of trails: approximately one mile of easy trails

Directions: From Highway 42, turn east on County Highway I in Carlsville and travel 1.5 miles to Oak Road. Travel north on Oak Road approximately 2 miles to trail head.

Partnering organizations: Knowles Nelson State Stewardship Fund, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division, the Fox River/Green Bay Natural Resources Trustee Council and many generous individuals and families.

A Bit of History: In 1910, August and Lillian Gabert moved from Sturgeon Bay with their 12 children and built the small, white frame house that still stands on the corner of Oak and Sunnyslope Roads. Every family member was conscripted into service, including Tilden, age 5, who would live in the house for the next nine decades.

Tilden Gabert and his wife, Bernice, raised their three children on the farm, tended 11 acres of orchard trees, milked 25 to 30 cows morning and night, planted and harvested a large garden, grew rows and rows of locally-famous raspberries and plowed and worked the land.

When Tilden passed away in 2003 at the age of 98, the Gabert children decided to preserve the property forever through a sale to the Door County Land Trust. According to Nancy Gabert Mueller, “We feel that we are honoring our parents’ years of hard work on the land. They would appreciate that this land will be preserved for others to learn from and enjoy and that it will remain a safe haven for all the wildlife that visits and lives here.”