The best way to experience the many facets of The Ridges Sanctuary is on a naturalist guided hike. These relaxed walks last about 90 minutes, and highlight many of the features of the sanctuary.
The most obvious feature of the sanctuary is the ridges themselves: a series of 30 old shorelines which have been formed by Lake Michigan over the past 1,400 years or so. Between the ridges are swales, which are long narrow wetland areas. The 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 some 25 species of native orchids, inhabit these varied habitats.
Along with its incredible diversity of wildflowers, the Ridges area provides habitat for both resident and migratory birds. Bird watchers come to see warblers, raptors, shore birds and waterfowl, especially abundant during the spring and fall migration.
These popular walks will be held Wednesday through Saturday at 9:30 am. No preregistration is required. Cost is $5 for Ridges members, $8 nonmembers, with no charge for children under 18.
Over 5 miles of trails are open year-round for self-guided hiking. The Nature Store, featuring a wide selection of nature-related books, puppets, T-shirts and gift items, is open daily from mid-May through mid-October. The Sanctuary is located at 8288 County Q, just off Hwy 57, in Baileys Harbor. For more information, call 920.839.2802 or visit http://www.RidgesSanctuary.org.