The best views at Charles A. Ransom Nature Preserve in Charlevoix County aren't along its trails but in the parking area, standing on your bumper if you can. The trailhead is located on the top of a ridge making it the highest point of this 80-acre preserve at an elevation of 973 feet, or 320 feet above Lake Michigan. Everything else is downhill including its trails.
Donated to the Little Traverse Conservancy in 1976, the Ransom tract includes 1.5 miles of trails with the perimeter of the system forming a loop of 1.2 miles. Most of it is a walk in the woods dominated by ash and basswood sugar but there is 20 acres of grassy meadows and shrubs that were once a farm field. In the summer you can search the open area for wild blackberries and strawberries while in the spring the woods are filled with trillium. Needless to say, October is a particularly enjoyable time to visit the preserve due to the brilliant fall colors of the maples.
The preserve is open to mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing as well as hiking. But keep in mind that the trail begins as a steady and sometimes steep drop of almost 200 feet in elevation in less than a half mile.
Distance: 1.2-mile loop Trail
Type: Multi-use Trail Terrain: Wooded ridge and meadows
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Nearest City or Town: Charlevoix