At a Glance
- Approximate Street Address: 14517 DePersia, Grand Haven, MI
- Nestled just south of Grand Haven, DePersia South Highlands Nature Preserve offers a small pocket of natural beauty along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Forested dunes like the ones found at DePersia provide critical habitat for wildflowers, reptiles, and migratory birds.
- Trail length: No trail.
- Before you visit, check out our preserve guidelines. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
DePersia South Highlands Preserve is located on South Highlands Road, south of Brucker Street in Grand Haven Township. Visitors should park along Brucker Street and walk in to the preserve.
What to See
DePersia South Highlands Nature Preserve is characterized by very steep, rugged topography with wooded dunes rising more than 140 feet from the forest floor. Because of the high potential for erosion, there are no trails on the preserve. However, adventurous hikers who reach the top of the dunes are rewarded with inspiring views of the surrounding lakeshore area.
DePersia South Highlands Preserve protects a forested backdune in a designated Critical Dune Area. A forest of towering oak, maple, and beech blankets the landscape, providing important habitat for a variety of wildlife. Wooded areas like DePersia are particularly important for migratory birds, which use forest patches along the lakeshore as stopover habitat during migration.
The land that is now the preserve was originally purchased by John and Dora DePersia and their friends in 1909 when the first lakeshore cottages in the area were being built. In those days, traveling to the property was difficult: the DePersias took the steamer from Chicago, boarded the interurban train to Grand Haven, traveled by horse and buggy down the beach, and finally climbed the steep dunes on foot to reach their destination.
Nearly 100 years later, the DePersia family and others in the area wanted the land to be conserved, permanently protecting its natural beauty. In 2002, the Land Conservancy worked with the DePersia family and the South Highlands Beach Association to create a nature preserve, the Land Conservancy’s second preserve in the Grand Haven area.