Legacy Nature Preserve
at Clay Banks

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The Legacy Preserve at Clay Banks offers one of the most breathtaking views in all of Door County. From the top of a windswept bluff, an open field stretches to the edge of a high clay bank and cascades down to meet the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. The Door County peninsula can be seen stretching northeastward out into the open lake. The preserve features over one-half mile of undeveloped shoreline, a cedar-filled wetland, open fields, and a meandering stream, as well as the steep bluff that bisects the preserve. This mix of habitats provides an ideal home for plants and animals including grassland birds, shorebirds, bald eagles and a number of rarely encountered wildflowers.

The red banks that line the shore in this part of Door County give Clay Banks Township its name. These clay banks are uplifted beach remnants of the last Ice Age. In more recent times, they’ve served as conspicuous navigational landmarks. In the mid-to-late 1800s, the nearby village of Clay Banks housed a sawmill, numerous businesses, schools and a post office and boasted the longest piers on the peninsula. These long piers were necessary due to shallow reefs, rock ledges and submerged boulders. The treacherous marine topography here was responsible for many documented shipwrecks, including a few directly offshore of the Legacy Preserve.

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.

  • 91 protected acres
  • 1-mile looped hiking trail with access to Lake Michigan
  • Splendid scenic vistas overlooking the lake and the fields and forest below
  • Clay bluffs that were formed thousands of years ago
  • Nearly 3,000 feet of undeveloped shoreline
  • Abundant wildlife, in particular shore birds, dragonflies and butterflies
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The Legacy Preserve at Clay Banks offers one of the most breathtaking views in all of Door County. From the top of a windswept bluff, an open field stretches to the edge of a high clay bank and cascades down to meet the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. The Door County peninsula can be seen stretching northeastward out into the open lake. The preserve features over one-half mile of undeveloped shoreline, a cedar-filled wetland, open fields, and a meandering stream, as well as the steep bluff that bisects the preserve. This mix of habitats provides an ideal home for plants and animals including grassland birds, shorebirds, bald eagles and a number of rarely encountered wildflowers.

The red banks that line the shore in this part of Door County give Clay Banks Township its name. These clay banks are uplifted beach remnants of the last Ice Age. In more recent times, they’ve served as conspicuous navigational landmarks. In the mid-to-late 1800s, the nearby village of Clay Banks housed a sawmill, numerous businesses, schools and a post office and boasted the longest piers on the peninsula. These long piers were necessary due to shallow reefs, rock ledges and submerged boulders. The treacherous marine topography here was responsible for many documented shipwrecks, including a few directly offshore of the Legacy Preserve.