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Cathead Bay


  • The Nature Conservancy Natural Areas Registry
  • State of Michigan Park Plan

Size: 1236 acres

Location: Almost the most northern extent of Leelanau Peninsula

Management: Leelanau State Park

Activities: Hiking, cross-country skiing, hunting, fishing, camping (adjacent), photography, nature study

Importance: A rather narrow sand and rock beach backed by several low dune ridges, and a wide sand-gravel flat with interdunal wetlands in some areas; behind these are high, forested dunes with numerous unvegetated blowouts. The open dunes, along with the numerous blowouts, are a fine example of this natural community, which was once common along the eastern Lake Michigan shoreline. In the sand and gravel flats behind the foredune, state-endangered piping plovers nest and feed. These birds usually nest on open wide beaches, but this unusual nesting spot is apparently satisfactory. Healthy populations of two state-threatened plants also grow in the interdunal area. Some shoreline areas may be closed during portions of May, June, and July due to piping plover nesting activity.