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Fruithaven Nature Preserve



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Trail Details

County
Benzie
Regions
Northwest
Latitude
N 44° 34' 25.32"
Longitude
W 086° 11' 21.12"
Distance
0.7 mile loop
Trail Type
Foot path
Terrain
Forested ridge
Difficulty
Easy
Nearest City or Town
Elberta
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Fruithaven is linked with GTRLC’s Upper Herring Lake Nature Preserve — together they protect 256 acres of the Herring Lakes Watershed. Other than an old farm field and the hardwood wetlands in the Herring Creek floodplain, Fruithaven is a broken terrain of ridges and valleys covered by a mesic northern forest of predominately sugar maples, American beech and hemlocks. The preserves' 0.7-mile loop features almost 100 feet in elevation but the climbs are gentle and reward hikers, and snowshoers, with a glimpse of the wetlands that Herring Creek flows through.
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Description
For more than 50 years since William McKinley purchased 551 acres north of Upper Herring Lake in 1945, his family operated Fruithaven Orchard on a spread that was a mix of orchards, fields and forested ridges. When the McKinleys were ready to give up their agrarian way of life in the late 1990s, developers from southern Michigan made an offer to purchase the farm with plans to build a pair of 18-hole golf courses, hotel and an airstrip.

Sparing the area from commercial development was paramount to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC).  The conservancy first convinced the family to apply for Purchase of Development Rights funds through the state of Michigan.  But when the application process dragged on, GTRLC stepped in and purchased the property.  Eventually, the development rights to 360 acres of farmland were sold to ensure the land stays in agricultural production. But 176 acres was designated as Fruithaven Forest Reserve, now known as Fruithaven Nature Preserve.

Fruithaven is linked with GTRLC’s Upper Herring Lake Nature Preserve — together they protect 256 acres of the Herring Lakes Watershed. Other than an old farm field and the hardwood wetlands in the Herring Creek floodplain, Fruithaven is a broken terrain of ridges and valleys covered by a mesic northern forest of predominately sugar maples, American beech and hemlocks. Wildlife that might be encountered ranges from whitetail deer and coyotes to wild turkeys, indigo buntings and pileated woodpeckers.

Originally, Fruithaven was accessed by nearly 2 miles of existing two-tracks. But the old forest roads were poorly marked, hard to follow and required backtracking. In 2014, a 0.7-mile loop was built from the trailhead on Herron Road that utilizes only a short segment of a two-track.  While the loop features almost 100 feet in elevation, the climbs are gentle and reward hikers, and snowshoers, with a glimpse of the wetlands that Herring Creek flows through.
Amenities & Services
Difficulty - Easy
Foot Path
Trail Guide

From post No. 1 a path heads north into a narrow valley while the another swings to the left and immediately begins climbing a ridge. Following the trail in a clockwise direction you quickly reach the crest of the ridge where, depending on the season, you might enjoy a glimpse of Upper Herring Lake to the south. The footpath then sidles the ridge, squeezes between a pair of impressive white pines and in another 100 yards passes a handful of other large pines.

A gentle descent into a wooded hollow follows and puts you in a place that is stunning during fall colors. At Mile 0.4 you reach the floor of the ravine and post No. 2, marking a junction with an old two-track. To add more mileage, you can follow the two-track through the forest to the north where it appears as a wide, easy to follow trail. You will undoubtedly encounter fallen timber across this unmaintained route as it weaves along another ridge for a half mile to the boundary of the preserve.

South of post No. 2, you remain in the hollow until reaching post No. 3 where the trail swings away from the two-track and returns to being a footpath to the trailhead.

Facilities

There is an information sign and parking near the trailhead at Fruithaven Nature Preserve but no other facilities.

Hours & Fees

There is are no vehicle entry fees at Fruithaven. The nature preserve is open year-round.

Directions

From M-22, turn east on Herron Road (also labeled County Road 604) and within a mile the posted trailhead for Fruithaven Nature Preserve is on the north side of the road. From US-31, turn west on Mick Road, also labeled CR-604. Follow CR-604 for 5 miles to the trailhead. In the winter there can be significant snow accumulation in the parking area, so snowshoers occasionally park on the south side of Herron Road.

 

Information

Contact the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy at (231) 929-7911 or online at www.gtrlc.org. For lodging or travel information contact Traverse City Tourism (800-872-8377; www.traversecity.com).


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