Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore
Jun 6, 2012
|We started the day out today taking the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a 7.4 mile self-guided auto tour on the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. When you start the drive you get a small brochure that lists all the sights that you can stop at along the way and gives information about them.
The first sight on the brochure was a covered bridge which is close to the beginning of the Pierce Stocking drive. The original structure was built by Pierce Stocking in the 1960s. The bridge had to be reconstructed in 1986. Then there were several places to view Glen Lakes with its wonderfully rich blue color. It made fantastic pictures!
Since we had packed a picnic, we stopped at the Picnic Mountain picnic area for lunch and had the place to ourselves which was nice!
Our next stop was at the Dune Overlook which was just a short distance from the picnic area. What a glorious view! From here we could see both the north and south Manitou islands, part of the park and Sleeping Bear Bay.
As I was taking pictures at the Dune Overlook, I noticed this blur of blue land on this wonderfully bare tree so I grabbed Lee so he could get a picture of him- an Indigo Bunting. He was too far away for my camera. I just love it when birds cooperate so well and sit still in a place we can actually see them!
At the next stop we were afforded the opportunity to hike the trail on the dunes. It started out with a nice boardwalk so we thought how bad could it be. Well, it started out fine. At first it was a boardwalk - no problem. Then it went into a tightly packed sand trail which wasn't too bad. Later though we were slogging through sand and climbing up and down hills. I can't remember how long they said the trail would be, but it felt like it was three times that! There were gorgeous views as we walked, but if you decide to do this, take some water with you. That would have helped!
We walked what we thought was forever and ended up at the Climbing Dune. We actually drove to the climbing dune last night when we were driving around and we couldn't believe that was where the trail took us! We watched a few people trudge up the hill. I think they actually had it easier going straight up than we did hiking all the way to it!
We knew when we found the climbing dune that we were in trouble because our truck was in the opposite direction. As we continued on the path, we finally were able to see the truck in the distance and Lee zoomed in to get a picture of it. However, there was no straight trail to it and we just had to continue in a huge circle to get back to it. I think we were probably at the half way point when we got to the climbing dune. We finally made it back to the truck and we were never so glad to see our iced tea and get into some air conditioning!
On the way out of the dunes area, you come into some forest. Some of the trees have very twisted trunks due to the sandy soil. The roots stay close to the top of the ground and gather whatever moisture they can find. We took a picture of one of them that was pointed out on the brochure.
The next stop is an Observation Deck at the Lake Michigan Overlook and that is where you can really see how the dunes can be dangerous. This Overlook which is near Parking Lot 9 and 10 on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The deck is about 450' above the lake level and the angle of the dunes to the lake is really REALLY steep. There are signs that tells you that you will be charged for a rescue if someone has to come and rescue you after you try to climb down this dune. Naturally, we were not the people that they had to ask twice being of sound mind!
All in all, even with the hike that lasted way longer than we had ever imagined, we had a wonderful visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore! We'd highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys beautiful scenery. Oh, and by the way as we were leaving, we read the sign that said that parts of the trail were strenuous along the way. So, the lesson learned is read first before you start a hike!
After we left the park, we headed to the village of Leland on the Leelanau Penninsula in Michigan. The town is very quaint and picturesque and we had fun wandering around the village. Unhappily for us Fish Town, the historical district, was undergoing a bunch of renovation and so everything in that area was off limits. It looks like the Fish Town area will be a lot more modern when they complete it but who knows what they have planned! There are a lot of art galleries and shops around and also a lot of restaurants. We decided to eat at the Blue Bird Cafe. The cafe is divided into a kind of bar and restaurant and a more refined restaurant. We went for the bar and restaurant today. We ended up having a walleye dinner and it was really good. It was a very nice day to end the day!