Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, II

image of a view of lake michigan This is a continuation of last week's post, which outlined a brief history of the lakeshore.  In researching and collecting notes about the park, it was evident the topic warranted more than one post.

Something that amazes me about the Lakeshore is the diversity of landscape within the park, and the varied opportunities for discovery that it provides.

Hiking in the park is a must do. In addition to seeing wildlife, experiencing mixed hardwood forests, dunescapes and inland lakes, one is almost always rewarded with a stunning view.

There are about 100 miles of trails in the park, and one of the most noteworthy is Alligator Hill, shown above.  Popular with cross country skiers in the winter, this area offers intermediate and advanced terrain and remarkable views of the Manitou and Fox Islands.  Other popular hikes include Sleeping Bear Point, Empire Bluff Trail, and Good Harbor Bay trail.

The landscape is also peppered with old farmsteads with original buildings.  Farmhouses, barns, milk houses, silos, corn cribs and sugar shacks can all be found. Most of these farms are very close to the road and easily accessible. The Park Service encourages park users to get out hike around the farms - to imagine oneself as a settler at the turn of the 20th century. The photo immediately below is of the granary and corn crib from Dechow Farm, and below that is a picture of the farmhouse on the Thoreson Farm.

image of a milkhouse and granary

The beaches are another highlight of the Lakeshore. There are stunning beaches all along the lakeshore. White sand and azure waters mean these beaches rival some of the most beautiful in the world. From North to South, the beaches at County Road 651 and 669, Glen Haven at the Cannery, Empire and Esch Road Beach are all remarkable and easily accessible from M-22. The photo below is from Sleeping Bear Point.

Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore is truly remarkable. The Phillip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire has a wealth of information about the park. There is so much to do and see! Make sure you schedule ample time to explore the woods, beaches and farmsteads of the lakeshore on your next trip to the area.

This is the second in a three-part series. Next week's post will focus on getting married in the park.

Photos: top and bottom: Cammie Buehler, farmsteads, courtesy of