Chippewa Run Natural Area

An ecological gem that serves at the “Gateway to Empire.”

Years ago when a beloved parcel on the outskirts of Empire went up for sale, the community and the Leelanau Conservancy rallied to preserve this scenic buffer which protects the village’s small town character. The land takes in four separate ecosystems, and features a much-loved beaver pond and stream where brook trout spawn and where blue flag iris and cardinal flower grow in abundance. Chippewa Run is a birding paradise where dozens of species visit or live, including green herons which nest in the pine tree grove that was planted in 1953.

On a spring morning, you might hear 20 bird species singing, from the melodious meadow lark to the raucous red-winged blackbird, in this diverse, 110-acre Natural Area. Deer and turkey winter in the old apple orchard; the sand pit is home to a turtle nursery and brook trout live in the stream that runs through the property. The area’s treasured beaver dams have entertained generations of children (although the beaver are no longer around).