Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary is one of nineteen Michigan Audubon sanctuaries and this site represents the southern terminus of the Trail. This jewel on Lake Michigan’s shore boasts over 1,500 feet of Lake Michigan Frontage on its 76 acres in Manistee County. Originally landscaped as an arboretum, many notable specimens have been preserved such as California Redwood, Ginko, and two Michigan Champion Trees, a Giant Sequoia and Sycamore. Bald Eagles, shorebirds, and migrating warblers can be seen on the many trails in the sanctuary. Because the sanctuary is situated in a major migratory flyway, the site is an ideal location for the Migration Celebration, one of several birding festivals that Michigan Audubon sponsors throughout the state each year.
There are several loop trails mostly through second growth forests and edges. Across M-110 are the Jack Fern Trail and the Ridge Trail, with maps available at the trailhead. The longer Jack Fern loop is about ¾ mile long over gently rolling hills. The best time to visit Lake Bluff is in mid-May during the peak of spring migration. The passage of a warm front with strong easterly winds, or a stalled cold front with fog, can produce fallouts as birds pile up along the Lake Michigan Shoreline. In April warm days with strong easterly winds are also excellent for hawk migration, which is best viewed from the field directly east of the Gray home across M-110.
Summer resident birds found along the trails include Black-throated Blue Warblers, Yellow Warblers, Black-throated Green Warblers, Hermit and occasional Wood Thrushes. During the winter months the bluffs are an excellent area for viewing flocks of Common Goldeneyes and Buffleheads in Lake Michigan. All three species of Scoters have been seen here as well as Long-tailed Ducks and Red-necked and Horned Grebes. During the late spring from February through March there are often huge flocks of Long-tailed Ducks offshore as noted above at the state park, that can be viewed with a scope, as they tend to stay from a few hundred yards to a mile or more offshore.
The Michigan Audubon Society owns the Lake Bluff Audubon Center and the Gray Family Home is now used for local Audubon Society meetings and state society events. The 60-acre preserve is open to the public seven days a week. During the summer months there are tours of the grounds and the home.
At the Lake Bluff Bed & Breakfast, you can browse the Michigan Audubon Bookstore and the Douglass Memorial Library. Stay in one of two guest rooms on either the first or second floor and linger over a continental breakfast in the den with views of the bird bath and feeder in the front yard. Gather in the lounge or watch a movie in the TV room. The airport and casinos are nearby and the local Manistee National Forest is a must-see delight.
Directions: From the intersection of M-110 and US 31 in Manistee, MI, travel two miles north on M-110 until you reach the Sanctuary at 2890 M-110 Manistee, MI.
Amenities: Parking. Maintained Trails. Beach Access. Restrooms. Facility Rentals. Onsite Manager. Guestroom with full private bath.