Shell Lake is a shallow lake completely surrounded by wilderness. The retreating lake edge has created an excellent birding area along the seam of thickets that lie in the shadows of a tremendous ridge that runs along the western edge of the lake. There is a trail from the parking area through the “valley” that runs to the swamp at the base of the ridge on the south end of the lake.
This trail is not maintained by the Park, however the path is very obvious heading due south from the parking area. The one mile trail does require navigating around a couple of the fallen giants that litter the valley floor. Grosbeaks, tanagers and vireos call the canopy home and the thickets nearest the lake provide home for flycatchers. After about a twenty minute hike, the largely hemlock ridge converges with the swamp which contains cattails and many standing dead trees home to Sapsuckers and Pileateds.
If you seek to provide an even greater diversity of species on this leg of your trip, you can continue on the trail south of the swamp which will bring you up a modest grade out to open meadows. The trail continues to the southwest across the meadows studded with pine and eventually brings you to the north side of Narada Lake. This is yet another wilderness lake within the Park and given the slight elevation of the meadows, you can sweep the lake for waterfowl amongst the many standing dead trees.
Directions: Driving from Glen Arbor, take M-22 north for approximately six miles until you reach the intersetion with Co. Rd. 669. Turn left and travel north on 669 about 1 mile to Lake Michigan Road. If you turn left (west) onto Lake Michigan Road (gravel), travel 1.2 miles and you will see a fork in the road. Take the left fork and travel another 1.0 miles until you see a boat access sign on your left. Take this two track, staying right at the fork (away from the boat access), until you arrive at a small parking area. This is not a marked trail, but the trail is very evident heading due south.