Waldeck Island Nature Preserve is an 11-acre nature preserve located on Stone Ledge Lake. On the preserve is a 1.2-mile looped trail through the serene forests and around the bio-diverse swamp. Walking the trail, exploring the shoreline, and visiting the viewing platform typically takes around an hour.
“This preserve is open to the public. Leave only footprints, but please come visit this beautiful property!”
Hiking and snowshoeing are encouraged among other quiet sports. Motorized vehicles and bikes are not permitted.
While on the trail one may think you were in an isolated forest with no one within miles, the trail is actually located just 5 miles southeast of Cadillac’s westside. Hop on M-115 going south and turn onto S. 43 Mile Road. Less than a mile down the road and the trail is on the left hand side. It is much easier to find than expected!
The parking lot resembles the trail – rugged but functional. It is a grass lot that can fit around 6 cars at a time. There are no designated spots, but if the grass lot fills up there is a short dirt road that could be used as overflow parking.
Waldeck Island Nature Preserve was donated by the Fredrick Rock Family as a way for visitors to get access to not only a beautiful plot of land but to experience nature in a convenient location.
Now That You’re There
The trail is connected right to the parking lot and 100 steps will have you entering the trailhead. The trail’s material is nature’s floor. It varies from grass, to dirt, to pine needles and leaves. Tree roots emerge from the ground and can be a tripping hazard, just be wary. Among roots are tree stumps, leaves that can be slick, and various other small obstacles are also present.
Among the trail are multiple side paths that will take you to the water where ducks, fish, or water skiers and boaters can be viewed.
Visitors can decide if they want to first get their steps in and head to the trail for some walking and then head to the viewing platform or vice versa. From the parking lot, the viewing platform is to the left not even 100 yards (a football field), and the trail is to the right.
Cadillac Area Land Conservancy (CALC) thanked the Dick Hansen family on Sunday, October 23, 2016, for donating a wildlife viewing platform in memory of Sandy Hansen. This viewing platform offers views of a beautiful wetland and riparian habitats and their wildlife like ducks, geese, herons, gulls, eagles, deer, muskrats, mink, and many songbirds in adjacent shrub and forest.
There is one bench on the trail and one on the viewing platform. Smaller hills will keep hikers and snowshoers legs warm, but not too overwhelmingly tired.
As stated above, the trail and viewing platform are embedded right next to a swamp, so in the non-winter months, mosquitoes are extremely prevalent. Pack some mosquito spray or a bug net and get your walking on!
Waldeck Island Nature Preserve is a widely unknown plot of land but thanks to its location and charm it is one of the greatest trails that the Cadillac Area has to offer. A must-see when in Cadillac or just driving through on M-115.