Located on the Niagara Escarpment, the Lautenbach Woods Nature Preserve presents visitors with a chance to see first-hand the fractures in the dolomite rock that underlies much of Door County. In the spring, when the ground thaws, water from higher elevations pours out the base of the escarpment on its way to Green Bay, as if someone’s pulled the plug on a drain. This water creates a vernal pond and a unique hardwood swamp on the far western portion of the preserve. The pond is reminiscent of the bayous of the south and contains enough water in spring that the Lautenbach children traversed it by rowboat. The pond is a favorite habitat for migrating waterfowl, salamanders and spring peepers. Although the pond recedes or disappears with warmer weather, high water marks on the hardwood trees are visible year-round.
Tall pines, hemlocks and hardwoods located along the escarpment create a shaded oasis, even on the hottest days of summer. This refugium (climatically stable area) provides habitat for rare wildlife, including terrestrial land snails that have survived here since glaciers covered the region 10,000 years ago. The hardwoods provide a dazzling display of color in fall, and the evergreens are a welcome sight for skiers and hikers throughout the winter.
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. Your 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.
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.
- 160 protected acres
- 1.25-mile looped hiking trail over level-to-rocky terrain with inclines along the bluff
- Niagara Escarpment through the center of the preserve
- Karst features such as fractures, fissures, and caves
- Vernal wetlands located at the base of the escarpment
- Mature stands of hemlock, white cedar and northern hardwoods that provide habitat for many migratory songbirds
- Outstanding scenery along a 3/4–mile stretch of County Highway G