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.
The river makes several twists and turns as it gets near Lake Michigan. This is a view from the road.
Driving north along M-22 I saw this stand of pines. There was still snow on the ground deep in the woods.
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.
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.
Here’s another view of the Sleeping Bear from the top of the 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.
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.
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.
At the lake, you find yourself on a high bluff overlooking the lake, about 300 feet below.
Here are some additional photos of the farm buildings.
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.
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.
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.
There is no shortage of things to do and see in the Sleeping Bear area. It is available all year with constantly changing scenery.