The Beautiful Thorne Swift Nature Preserve in Harbor Springs, Michigan

The beautiful Thorne Swift Nature Preserve in Harbor Springs, Michigan is a local gem for nature lovers. Below you’ll find everything you need to know when you visit this gorgeous slice of Northern Michigan!

horne Swift Nature Preserve Harbor Springs, Michigan

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve Information

Address: 6696 Lower Shore Dr, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Phone: (231) 526-6401
Hours: Trails open 10 am – sunset from April 15 – November 15; nature center open 10 am – 7 pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day (call ahead to confirm as hours may vary)
Entry Fee: Free to visit, but plan on bringing cash for the donation box to support the Little Traverse Conservancy


As you drive down Lower Shore Dr keep a look out for a tall wooden sign with the Thorne Swift Nature Preserve name. The entry road looks like a residential driveway as it goes right beside the nature preserve manager’s house. If you arrive before or after hours, there is a locked gate preventing entry into the parking lot. We found out from experience!

From the parking lot, you can easily access the nature center or explore the trails. Let’s check out the trails first.

Nature Trails

With 1.5 miles of easy trails through wooded terrain, the Thorne Swift Nature Preserve is a great spot for all skill levels. Our group of toddlers, kids, and adults all enjoyed ourselves.

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve Trail Map

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve Trail Map

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve has 3 short trails around 1/2 mile each: Balsam Trail, Cedar Trail, and the Beach Trail.

From the parking lot, our family took the Beach Trail out to the lake and then the Balsam Trail back to the nature center. At about 1 mile, this was the perfect route with young kids.

The Beach Trail

The Beach Trail is the most direct route out to Lake Michigan and passes by a beautiful pond area.

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve Trails

The trails are very well kept, although a bit narrow, with either mulch to wooden boardwalks to guide your way. Along the trails you’ll also find several informational displays about the local ecosystem.

Lake Michigan Beach

At the end of the Beach Trail a set of stairs takes you down to the Lake Michigan shoreline. With only 300 feet of water access, the beach area is small, but provides a beautiful spot to view and walk along the lake.

Lake Michigan Dune Platform

From the Beach Trail, follow the signs to the Balsam Trail to see the Lake Michigan dune platform. In this section, dune access is restricted to the platform to protect the fragile ecosystem.

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve Dune Platform

Nature Center

Inside the nature center, you’ll find several informational displays as well as a play structure for children. Definitely a fun spot to learn about the natural world for all ages.

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve Nature Center

Experience the Beauty of Thorne Swift Nature Preserve

I hope you get a chance to visit the lovely Thorne Swift Nature Preserve and support the Little Traverse Conservancy on your next visit to Harbor Springs, Michigan!

Looking for more nature adventures in Michigan?

15 Incredible Lake Michigan State Parks to Explore This Year
The Best Michigan Hikes for Families from 5 Local Moms
Awesome West Michigan Hiking Trails In Ottawa County

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