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Cobble beach at Toft Point.
Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

Toft Point Natural Area

Toft Point contains several outstanding native plant communities concentrated on a 1-mile-wide peninsula along Door County's Lake Michigan coast.The natural area is bordered on the north by Moonlight Bay, and on the south by Baileys Harbor. There are more than two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, with areas of wave-cut dolomite cliffs. Stretches of limestone cobble beach, mixed with marly soil, are exposed during periods of low lake levels. The vegetation of the eastern shoreline, influenced by the cooling effects of Lake Michigan, consists of a narrow strip of relict boreal forest dominated by balsam fir and white spruce.

The majority of the peninsula is wooded with a mesic forest of sugar maple, yellow birch, hemlock, balsam fir, and scattered white pine. To the north, along Moonlight Bay, is an extensive calcareous sedge meadow that grades into shrub-carr and wet-mesic forest dominated by white cedar with occasional paper birch and black ash. Pockets of tamarack swamp and alder thicket are imbedded in the wetland. Extensive stands of hard-stemmed bulrush grow offshore in 1 to 4 feet of water offering cover and spawning sites for a variety of fish. The natural area provides habitat for more than 440 vascular plant species and one of the most diverse bryophyte (mosses and liverworts) floras in the state. Several orchid taxa and many rare plant species find refuge here. Toft Point, along with the adjacent Ridges Sanctuary, contains many area-sensitive bird species including seventeen species of nesting warblers.

The site is named for Kersten Toft who received the land as compensation for his work at a limestone quarry nearby. Remaining on site is an historic kiln, which is the state's best intact example of the early circular kilns that once dotted parts of the Niagara escarpment. Toft Point is owned by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. The site is recognized by the National Park Service as a National Natural Landmark and was designated a State Natural Area in 1967.

Application to conduct research on a UW-Green bay natural area.

Directions

Access From the intersection of State Highway 57 and Ridges Road on the north end of Baileys Harbor, go east on Ridges Road about 1.4 miles, then north on an access lane at fire number 8380 to a parking area. Or, continue southeast on Ridges Road 1.1 miles, then east on Point Drive 1.2 miles to its end.

Hiking is allowed on trails. Dogs, bicycles, and motorized vehicles are prohibited. Hunting is only allowed with permission. Contact biodiversity@uwgb.edu for more information.

Friends of Toft Point

Are you interested in helping to preserve this important natural area? Consider joining the Friends of Toft Point. This organization provides docents to monitor trails and assists visitors. They also remove invasive plants and help in the maintenance of trails and historic cabins on the site. The organization raises money to fund their projects and offer a research scholarship for UW--Green Bay students to study vegetation on the site.