Thorne Swift Nature Preserve | Try These 3 Fantastic Hiking Trails in Harbor Springs Michigan During Your Michigan Color Tour + Map (Near Petoskey)

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve | By Sherry Trautman | | Updated September 22, 2022

The lovely Thorne Swift Nature Preserve is a peaceful place to hike and enjoy nature. Chris and I absolutely love it! We took his aunt and uncle there and they agreed it is definitely a Michigan hidden gem!

  • Thorne Swift is a perfect short outing for families with small children as the walk is less than a mile, flat and very interesting. 

HOURS AND OPEN DAYS: Thorne Swift is open daily from 10:00AM to sunset from typically April 15 through to November 15.

The Nature Center is open Memorial Day through to Labor Day from 10:00AM - 7:00PM.

How Long is the Thorne Swift Nature Trail?

The Thorne Swift Nature Trail is about one mile lightly trafficked loop trail. There are three trails, but combined it is about one mile.

Your first stop should be the Elizabeth Kennedy Nature Center to see informative displays and information about what plant and animals you might see on your nature walk.  

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve Map

Check out these three incredible trails at Thorne Swift Nature Preserve!

Cedar Trail - We love the Cedar Trail as it has a boardwalk path that goes through lovely dense cedar swamps (lots of shade in the summer!) that is so peaceful and pretty. It's about a half mile long loop.

  • You might want to bring your bird book and binoculars! 

Balsam Trail - About a half mile long, this trail winds through lovely birch trees and wild flowers. It's really fantastic in the spring.

The nature center informed us that the lovely wildflower, Lady's Slipper, grows really well here. This is a fun trail as you can take a path to the Dune Observation Deck that offers great views of waterfowl, nesting gulls, and several birds including chickadees and warblers. Be sure to enjoy a sunset from this observation deck this summer. 

The Beach Trail: You can reach the beach from both the Balsam and Cedar trails but if you want a straight shot to the beach, take this trail! It leads from the Nature Center one-quarter mile down to the incredible sandy beach. Feel free to swim, relax, catch some sun or have a picnic!

Restrooms are at this location.

As you wander, notice the cedar swamps on both sides of the boardwalks.  What birds to hear and see?  

Enjoy walks along the elevated boardwalks that lead to overviews of Little Traverse Bay. Can you see why we love it here?

You can see and hear lots of wildlife in and around the ponds and forests surrounding the lovely trails. 

There are several feet of public beach to enjoy at Thorne Swift Nature Preserve. Bring a lunch and enjoy it by the beach!

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