There are many reasons to escape to Door County, WI, for a relaxing weekend, the gorgeous landscape for one. But no visit to the peninsula would be complete without exploring The Ridges Sanctuary where more than 500 species of plants, including native orchids, 60 species of birds and 12 threatened or endangered species thrive. Located just minutes from The Ashbrooke Hotel, you can easily spend a few hours – or all day – meandering along trails and boardwalks to experience the seasonal splendor of the most biologically diverse ecosystem in Wisconsin.
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The Ridges Sanctuary: Wisconsin’s First Land Trust
Named for a series of 30 ridges and swales created by the natural ebb and flow of Lake Michigan over centuries, The Ridges Sanctuary started out with just 40 acres when it was established in 1937. It quickly grew to include 520 acres by 1946 and when the sanctuary celebrated 50 years in 1987, it had grown to span 1,000 acres. Today, it permanently protects more than 1,600 acres ranging from open beaches to shaded conifer forests.
What Will You See at The Ridges Sanctuary?
When you visit The Ridges Sanctuary, you will have the option to explore four distinct areas. Discover Hidden Brook, the Sanctuary, the Family Discover Trail and Logan Creek on your own at your leisure, or opt for guided hikes to learn even more.
No matter how many times you visit the sanctuary, each time will be unique. In fact, we recommend spending time at the sanctuary in all seasons. That way, you will have the chance to experience everything from a carpet of wildflowers to migrating butterflies to the endangered Hines Emerald dragonfly to nesting cranes to snowshoe adventures. In addition to guided nature hikes, custom tours are available and the perfect way to hit birding hot spots, learn about the diverse flora on expanded wildflower hikes, and gain a better understanding of the protected lands through history/nature combination tours.
What’s Else is There?
Don’t miss the opportunity to view the Baileys Harbor Range Lights, two lighthouses built in 1869 to guide ships safely into the harbor. The lights can be seen from the Sanctuary trails, but keep an eye out for the Door County Maritime Museum’s annual Lighthouse Festival, which occurs each June and is the only time the historic lights are open to the public.
When is the Best Time to Visit?
Plan on spending a few hours (or all day!) at the Ridges Sanctuary no matter what time of year you visit. Spring and summer are perfect for wildflower walks, the fall brings with it colorful foliage and winter is perfect for snowshoeing.
Recurring and Special Events
In addition to regularly scheduled hikes and lectures, you’ll want to take part in the sanctuary’s Festival of Nature. This annual festival runs Thursday-Sunday in late May and is a fantastic opportunity to participate in a variety of events to “celebrate the precious species, rare habitats and natural beauty” the organization protects.” Search for edible mushrooms, enjoy a peaceful paddle on the river, search for elusive native orchids, or enjoy wine, music and guided painting classes!
Start Planning Your Visit
As you begin to plan your weekend getaway, let The Ashbrooke Hotel serve as your home base. As one of the few adults-only hotels in Door County, WI, our well-appointed hotel in Egg Harbor is convenient to a wide variety of things to do and see including The Ridge Sanctuary. Spend the day exploring the great outdoors or indulging in some retail therapy before returning to your comfortable accommodations at The Ashbrooke.
Photo Credit: Dantesattic / Thinkstock