Hiking Around the Sleeping Bear Dunes

Last weekend I visited a few places around the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in the areas near Empire and Glen Arbor.  Even in the winter, this is a beautiful place.

The first stop was along the Platte River, just before it empties into Lake Michigan.  At the end of Lake Michigan Road is a parking lot with access to the river and Lake Michigan.  There was no one around this day, though.

Platte River Emptying into Lake Michigan
Platte River Emptying into Lake Michigan

 The river makes several twists and turns as it gets near Lake Michigan.  This is a view from the road. 

Platte River
Platte River

Driving north along M-22 I saw this stand of pines.  There was still snow on the ground deep in the woods.

Pine Forest along M-22
Pine Forest along M-22

Next stop was the Empire Bluffs Trail just south of Empire.  This is a favorite hike any time of the year.  However, this time, there was a mix of rain and snow, causing the view to be much different than on a clear summer day.

View of Sleeping Bear from Empire Bluffs Trail
View of Sleeping Bear from Empire Bluffs Trail

At the top of the trail is a boardwalk along the top of the sand bluff.  It looked like the sky simply melted into the lake with no discernible boundary between them.

Sky Melting into Lake Michigan
Sky Melting into Lake Michigan

Here’s another view of the Sleeping Bear from the top of the trail.

View of Sleeping Bear from Empire Bluffs Trail
View of Sleeping Bear from Empire Bluffs Trail

 I was quite concerned to see the great number of trees that had fallen since the last time I had hiked this trail.  I stopped at the Ranger/Visitor Center after the hike and asked about the trees.  Apparently it has been a very windy winter.  There was no one storm that took these trees down, but a combination of poor forest health and the multiple high wind events over the winter.

Trees Down Due to Wind Storms
Trees Down Due to Wind Storms

 

Trees Down Due to Wind Storms
Trees Down Due to Wind Storms

I asked the ranger about additional hiking opportunities for the cold, wet afternoon.  He gave me some hints about some other options, telling me about one trail that is not on the official maps.  I will not divulge the location of this hike here, but I may also give you some hints if contact me directly.  Perhaps you have hiked there.  If so, please let me know if you recognize the trail.

There is a relatively flat trail that is wide and easy that takes you about half a mile to the old farm.

Trail to Farm House
Trail to Farm House

 

The Farm
The Farm

There is a farm house, a barn, root cellar, cistern, and a couple other out buildings.  The trail continues another half mile or so to the lake.

Trail to the Lake
Trail to the Lake

At the lake, you find yourself on a high bluff overlooking the lake, about 300 feet below.

View to the North
View to the North

 

View to the South
View to the South

Here are some additional photos of the farm buildings.

Door Handles
Door Handles

 

Barn Door
Barn Door

 

Hasp and Lock
Hasp and Lock

 

Root Cellar Door
Root Cellar Door

 

Old Stone Steps to House
Old Stone Steps to House

 

Back of Farm House
Back of Farm House

The National Park Service does not have the funding to repair the old farm houses on the Lakeshore Property.  It would be great to be able to go into these houses, but it is not safe to do so.  Therefore, many are locked up.

Kitchen, through the Window
Kitchen, through the Window

 

Front Room through the Window
Front Room through the Window

 

Barn
Barn

After completing this hike, I headed back to Empire to the beach.  The waves were crashing against the rocks on the shore, leaving a blanket of ice on the rocks.

Rocks and Ice at Empire Beach
Rocks and Ice at Empire Beach

 

Rocks and Ice at Empire Beach
Rocks and Ice at Empire Beach

Here’s a short video clip of the waves.

 

I finished my day at the Day Farm.  I have enjoyed the trio of barns there along M-109.  I walked across the field to get a better view of the barns and the old farm house.

Day Farm Barns
Day Farm Barns

 

Day Farm House
Day Farm House

There is no shortage of things to do and see in the Sleeping Bear area.  It is available all year with constantly changing scenery.

Mark

3 thoughts on “Hiking Around the Sleeping Bear Dunes

  1. As always, your pics are stunning… I almost felt the chill while sitting right here! I so enjoy them always. See you in June! Celia

  2. Great pics. Lots of trees down. I love the door handle and the root cellar. Looks like you found a “fixer upper”, too! That last image would be a lovely oil painting. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Drop me a note and let me know how things went with your visitors 🙂
    ~Karen

  3. I would love to walk these trails,all so look inviting and the views are great.!!
    Love seeing old barns and houses too.
    Great pictures as always Mark,thanks so much for posting.

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