Distance: 1.6-mile loop
Type: Hiking, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing
Terrain: Wooded ridge and meadows
Dogs: Yes on 6-foot lease
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tucked away in the ridges above Lake Charlevoix is Nathan "Barry" Driggers Memorial Preserve, a 75-acre tract with a colorful history that is now owned and managed by the Little Traverse Conservancy.
Traditionally known as Lake Charlevoix Farm, the nature preserve includes a pine plantation, open fields, and high, forested ridges with views of Lake Charlevoix. Meandering across the property is 1.5-mile trail system that is open to hikers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and mountain bikers.
The main house, now adjacent to the preserve property, was originally built by a veteran of the Civil War and eventually the farm evolved into the main dairy serving Boyne City. Throughout its history it was an accepted tradition for the owners to allow locals to hike the property and enjoy the views from the ridges.
When a Florida-based development group announced plans in 2003 to build more than 20 homes on the ridges with views of Lake Charlevoix, a drive began to preserve the farm. After several years of organizing and fundrising, the Little Traverse Conservancy purchased the tract in 2007 and opened it up the following year.
The preserve includes more than a half mile of scenic Boyne City-Charlevoix Road and from there rises 100 feet in elevation to a ridge-top vista. The tract is split by a small stream and graced with mature hemlocks, maples and beech trees.
Driggers is an excellent destination for birding, family outings and fall color hikes. Mountain biking is allowed but most off-road cyclists head elsewhere for more extensive trail systems like Avalanche Preserve. The route described below is the perimeter of the trail system with a bit of backtracking but is still only a 1.6-mile outing.
Both snowshoers and Nordic skiers make sue of the limited trail system at Driggers. The trails are occasionally groomed by volunteers and set with tracks for classic cross-country skiing. The trails are rated moderate and do include some downhill runs but can be handled by most novice skiers.
At the east end of the preserve is a small parking area off of Boyne City-Charlevoix Road that is plowed throughout the winter, providing room for three cars.
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