The Round Lake Preserve is a short drive from either Harbor Springs or Petoskey. The preserve shares a parking lot with the Little Traverse Conservancy’s office on Powell Road at the M-119 intersection. The parking area is maintained in the winter and is a safe place where equipment can be strapped to little ones as their siblings explore nearby: this location sports wooded land, wetlands, and its namesake Round Lake.
The lake and surrounding area is the Inland Waterway’s headwater, which drains Lake Huron through Cheboygan. This is surprising, as Round Lake is located within a mile of Lake Michigan. This preserve is a great place to visit throughout the year, but you may want to bring some bug spray in the spring and summer months. If you stay in the spring, you will see trillium growing throughout the woods.
The first time I visited this preserve, I noticed that it was the first area to see the flower. I would recommend this preserve highly to someone who has not yet explored any of the LTC system’s preserves. It is easy to hike, and because it is located immediately next to the organization’s office, you have the opportunity to have your questions answered and to pick up a map or two. Like most preserves operated by LTC, the trails here consist of a series of well-maintained loops.
These loops are shorter than in most other preserve locations. A quick 0.35-mile hike will get you out to the lake, where there are a boardwalk and a sitting and observation platform. As I sat there contemplating the view, I noted that this was a relatively quiet place to be. Both M-119 and US-31 border the area around Round Lake, but aside from the occasional sound of a vehicle, all that could be heard was the wind and rare bird.
This visit was shortly after sunrise. The observation platform faces the east, making it a great place to sit with a coffee and start the day, even in the biting cold. In this suburban setting, it was amazing that such peace could exist, with the great benefit being ease of access. This preserve is a great spot to bring the family, including the four-legged ones.
The trails and waterfront are all reasonably protected from the wind in the cold months, and in the summer, there is plenty of shade to be found. The variation of land in this preserve provides for learning about the lake, wetlands, and forest, all within a mile of the car.