This preserve is for the birds! The hiking trail at the Domer-Neff Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary winds its way through bucolic old fields and low shrubs that provide true sanctuary for many of the 218 recorded species of birds found on Washington Island. This beautiful preserve was established in 1997 to protect the upland acres of bird habitat. As the first Door County Land Trust nature preserve on Washington Island, it also marked the beginning of an important relationship between the Land Trust and the Washington Island community.
Since the establishment of the preserve, Washington Island school children have planted hundreds of native trees and shrubs to enhance the property’s bird habitat. Avian visitors include eastern kingbirds, field sparrows, meadowlarks and bluebirds. Kestrels, harriers and other birds of prey may be seen hunting in these open meadows.
The Domer-Neff Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary abuts a sanctuary of another sort, the Stavkirke Chapel. This beautiful Scandinavian chapel is based on drawings of one built in Borgund, Norway, in 1150 AD and was built to honor the island’s immigrant heritage. The chapel is surrounded by a peaceful, wooded meditation trail that connects to the Door County Land Trust hiking trail.
Help us continue to protect Door County’s special places. Door County Land Trust nature preserves were established to protect fragile ecological resources and provide habitat for plants and wildlife. You can help maintain the health of the forest, meadows, and wetlands by respecting the nature preserves in the following ways:
Stay on the trails. Hiking off-trail disturbs vegetation and wildlife, and increases your chances of encountering poison-ivy, other natural hazards, or trespassing outside of preserve boundaries.
Clean your boots or shoes. You can reduce the spread of invasive plants by brushing your boots or shoes where a boot brush station is provided.
Pets are welcome. Please keep your pets on a leash at all times and pick up after your pets.
Collecting is not allowed. Collecting of any vegetation, wildlife, or other material is not allowed.
Leave no trace. Please carry out everything that you carry in, including garbage.
Some activities are not allowed. Horseback riding, ATVs, bicycles, snowmobiles and other motorized recreational equipment is not allowed on the preserves.
Camping in parking lots or on Land Trust protected properties is not allowed. Use of the nature preserves is allowed from dawn until dusk.
Fires are not allowed on Land Trust protected properties.
Wear brightly colored clothing during hunting seasons. Hunting, trapping, and fishing may be allowed at some Door County Land Trust nature preserves. For more detailed information about hunting on Door County Land Trust preserves, please visit our Hunting Program page.
- 43 protected acres
- 0.6-mile looped hiking trail over level terrain
- Ideal fields, shrubs and forest habitat for species like eastern kingbird, field sparrow, meadowlark, bluebird, kestrel, and harrier
- Access to neighboring Stavkirke Chapel and meditation trail