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The best way to experience the abundance of nature at Schlitz Audubon is to hike the trails. Our offering includes beautiful nature hikes, birding trails, ADA hiking trails and more. In every season, our 185 acres offers incredible views of flora and fauna.
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is designated as an Important Bird Area because of the habitat our nature preserve provides migratory birds. You can view both Lake Michigan and the forest from above by climbing our 60-foot observation tower. We provide a growing selection of wheelchair and stroller accessible walking trails so that everyone can experience nature. When weather permits, snowshoes are available for use on our trails – free for members, or $10 for guests.
Recommended Nature Hikes
First Time Visitor
Take the hiking trail to Mystery Lake and then visit our Observation Tower. The tower provides a beautiful view of the nature preserve and Lake Michigan. Mystery Lake has a boardwalk that lets you get close to the frogs and turtles, and is wheelchair accessible.
Lake Michigan Hiking Trail
Take the paved hiking trail down to Lake Michigan and follow the sandy steps down to the beach. You can feel the lake breeze, and see if any gulls or ducks are out on the water. Continue walking on the North Lake Terrace Trail, stop by the new Milner Lake Michigan Viewing Deck for another great view of Lake Michigan, and then continue on and head up the wooden steps to return to the building.
Wheelchair Accessible Hike
Take the Green Tree Accessible Trail around the tower and connect to the wheelchair accessible hiking trail made of crushed gravel that leads to the Mystery Lake boardwalk. You’ll pass through woods, have the chance to see beautiful ephemeral flowers in spring, and end up at Mystery Lake with an up-close look at frogs, turtles, muskrats, waterlilies, and you’ll be able to see native birds like Great Blue Heron, Baltimore Orioles, and Tree Swallows.
There is no wrong way to go if you’re a birdwatcher! We have a variety of habitats on the land, so different species can be found all over the property. A good route to start with is swinging by Mystery Lake, taking the paved path down to Lake Michigan, and then walking back up to the building by following the North Lake Terrace Hiking Trail. During spring migration, this route should give a great variety of birds, including many warbler species.
Hike to Mystery Lake, and then head to the Woodland Loop. It is not a high-traffic area, and even includes a spot called Solitude Marsh! Another great area to recommend to visitors looking for solitude is the West Meadows Trail. You will see quite a few ponds, Eastern Bluebird houses, prairie flowers in summer, and it’s likely you will not run into anyone else. Hiking this route will be muddy if it has rained recently.
Guided hikes are a great way to learn about the Center and our trails. If you’d like to participate in a Naturalist-led hike, they are scheduled for 11:00am and 2:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. Meet in front of the building. Guided hikes are free with membership or admission and no registration is necessary.
Here are a few quick guidelines for hiking at Schlitz Audubon. We have six miles of trails, portions of which consist of paved, crushed gravel, or boardwalks that are wheelchair accessible. Drones, bicycles, and pets are not allowed on Center trails. Collecting is prohibited; please leave nature where it is for everyone to experience. Please stay on marked trails (even for photographs); stepping off trail can diminish plant and animal habitat that we work to create.
See our Frequently Asked Questions for complete trail guidelines.