Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve
Construction Update at Lion's Den Nature Preserve
The Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department recently completed the construction of a new pavilion building at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve. The building includes indoor bathrooms and an open-air picnic shelter designed by Kueny Architects, LLC and constructed by Mike Koenig Construction Co, Inc. Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve is the most visited park in the Ozaukee County Park System and until now, the park was serviced by rental portable toilets only, which were inadequate due to increased park usage. This project is expected to greatly enhance the Park user experience.
For additional project information, please contact the Department office at 262-238-8257.
Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve represents one of the last stretches of undeveloped bluff land along the Lake Michigan shoreline, from Mequon up to Port Washington.
Over 1/2 mile of 90- to 100-foot bluffs look out onto Lake Michigan, offering tremendous viewing opportunities for residents and visitors.Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve is also adjacent to a 44-acre wetland complex owned by United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for enhancing populations of migratory birds and other wildlife.
This park offers tremendous views. Stroll across bridges over the gorge or down the gorge stairways to walk along the Lake Michigan shoreline. This 73-acre park offers plenty of hiking trails, boardwalks through the wetlands, picnic areas, scenic views, and restrooms.
The Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve is an “ecological jewel” within the Ozaukee County park system. This park is a prototype for the planning and implementation of other “Nature Preserves” within the county park system that respects local ecology. Many people use this park for nature walks, educational tours and photo shoots. Recreational features currently available at Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve include:
- Bird Watching
- Off Road Parking Areas
There is no ADA compliant path down to the beach.
For questions about Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve, contact the park caretaker at (262)241-5868.
Diverse grassland, wet meadow, woodland, wetland, and bluff habitats, along with a spectacular Lake Michigan view and public access to the Lake Michigan shoreline, make this 73-acre county property ideal for passive recreational use and birding.
During peak spring migration, over 20 species of warblers can be found within a short walk from the parking lot. The boardwalks offer views of species such as Rails, Least Bittern, Green Heron, Piedbilled Grebe, Ring-necked and Wood Duck.
The 100-foot bluff-top and approximately one mile of shoreline provide a great vantage point for viewing loons, herons, and other waterfowl, as well as spring and fall raptor migration. Lion’s Den Gorge offers visitors the opportunity to experience the true natural beauty of the area. The park is a prototype for the planning and implementation of “nature preserves” within the County Park System that respects local ecology. In order to maintain the diverse native vegetation representing a more northern affinity forest, deer hunting is allowed by permit in the fall.
Purchasing the Park
This 73-acre park was part of an undeveloped Lake Michigan Shoreline property in the Town of Grafton, which contained a portion of the Lion’s Den Gorge Natural Area. The land was acquired from Dr. Ghulam Jeelani Dhar in 2002 by Ozaukee County and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT), as well as numerous partners. The OWLT holds a conservation easement on the property, which guides the passive recreational development of the park.
The park offers tremendous viewing and educational opportunities, including access to a Natural Area that has remained untouched since before the European settlement of Wisconsin. The park is also adjacent to a 44-acre Waterfowl Production Area, owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
An asphalt driveway/parking lot, informational kiosk, gravel trails, trail bridges and stairways, bluff vistas, and several elevated board walk trails have been added to the park between 2003 and 2008. These improvements serve as the “infrastructure” to encourage nature education and appreciation, by providing public access to many unique ecosystems. This public access includes almost 0.7 miles of 90 to 100 foot high bluffs looking out onto Lake Michigan and a mixture of wetland / upland areas that provide diverse habitats for native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees that are useful for all types of wildlife, such as migratory birds, game birds and waterfowl, amphibians, and mammals. The park has quickly become a favorite scenic, hiking, and picnic spot for many residents and visitors. View photos of scenic trails, hikes, and more.