Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Guided tours
Backcountry camping
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve is a 445-acre protected tract of land on Lake Michigan. The preserve is located about six miles southeast of downtown Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The preserve protects a sandy beach and dunes by Lake Michigan. The landscape past the sand dunes is a forested ridge-swale with tall white pines, hemlocks and red maples. Further west, Strawberry Creek emerges from a large cedar wetland and makes its way to Sturgeon Bay. There is sand ridge to the north that gives visitors great views of two historic lighthouses (the Canal Station Light Tower and the red Sturgeon Bay Canal North Pierhead Light) and the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal.

The area in and around the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve has a rich history. This land once was the site of a portage between Lake Michigan and Sturgeon Bay that was used by Native Americans. In 1872, European settlers started construction of the 7,400-foot canal, which permanently linked the two bodies of water.

Today the Preserve is an important nesting site for rare and threatened bird species such as the bald eagle, Caspian tern and osprey. Rare plant species such as the dune thistle, dune goldenrod, and dwarf lake iris call the Preserve home.

The Preserve has 2.5 miles of trails that are level, but sandy in some places. There are two small parking areas along the east end of Lake Lane that offer access to the Preserve. There are no amenities at these parking lots. The Preserve is open to the public at no charge for hiking, cross-country skiing, and other low-impact activities. Dogs on a leash are allowed. Horseback riding, ATVs, bicycles, snowmobiles and other motorized recreational equipment is not allowed on the Preserve. Overnight camping and fires are also prohibited.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Scenic views.


Small parking areas.


Family friendly
Near lake or river


Nearby Lodging + Camping

Potawatomi State Park, Wisconsin


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