Just over two months after completing its purchase, the Little Traverse Conservancy has opened the 280-acre Offield Family Viewlands property to the public for nature enjoyment.
This spectacular property was protected in April thanks to a significant grant from the Offield Family Foundation.
The property was previously owned by a land investor and, before that, was known as the Little Traverse Bay Golf Club.
More than 4½ miles of designated trails following old golf cart paths are available for hiking, biking, bird watching and other similar non-motorized activities. In addition to the classic view of Little Traverse Bay enjoyed by the parking area, incredible views of the Inland Waterway are featured from different high points of the trails.
Conservancy Executive Director Kieran Fleming explains that the new trails skirt the old golf greens which are being converted to native meadows. “We have mown paths to clarify the trail route and guide people away from the areas we are restoring,” Fleming explains. “We also want the public to know that the old restaurant, clubhouse, snack shack, and other buildings remain locked while we continue to evaluate future plans for them. We hope to have a much better idea within a few months, but will take up to a year to formulate our plans.”
A special ceremony was held this past Monday with the Offield Family to celebrate the land’s protection and the decades of land protection that have been made possible in northern lower and eastern upper Michigan with Offield Family Foundation support.
“To date, 80 of our land protection projects protecting more than 7,800 acres throughout our service area were made possible with funding from this foundation,” Fleming said. “These projects have literally been spread throughout our entire five-county service area. Yet many of them are lands that we drive by daily and take for granted the natural beauty they provide.” Fleming noted that from the high points of the Viewlands property, you can actually see several of the projects supported by the Offield Family Foundation including the Offield Family Working Forest Reserve on Quick Road and several projects near the Petoskey State Park. It is fitting that this year is the 80th anniversary of the Offield Family Foundation.
While the Viewlands is now open, the Conservancy continues to raise money for the land’s protection in order to pay off the loan that was taken out in April.
To give to this project or for more information, please visit www.landtrust.org/OffieldFamilyViewlands.
The physical address to the main gate is 995 Hideaway Valley Drive, Harbor Springs.