SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – BACKPACKER.com Online Exclusive

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

A big Midwestern sandpile turned into an otherworldly escape by pounding surf and forests.

by: Larry Rice

PAGE 1 2

Little-Known Fact: Glen Haven and the Manitou Islands once supplied fuel for wood-burning ships that sailed the Great Lakes in the mid- and late 1800s.

It was easy to follow the tracks in the moist, rippled sand. The trail entered the rolling dunes from a grove of jack pines, skirted a brush-choked swale, and ended at the pounding surf of Lake Michigan a half-mile away. From my place behind a clump of beach grass, I watched as seven white tail deer took turns drinking in the fading dusk of early spring.

This was the first evening of my three-day backpack through Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I had expected to see deer in the forests and cedar swamps that surround the dunes, but was surprised to find an abundance of well-worn paths leading through the hills of blowing sand.

Under cover of dusk, the animals melted into an eerie "ghost forest" of bleached cottonwood skeletons half-smothered by the unstable dunes. It was also time for me to leave. Tucked away in the woods, at the edge of one of America's biggest sandpiles, was my camp for the night.

My trip had begun that morning. I left from Good Harbor Bay, at the eastern end of the national lakeshore, and covered about 10 miles to a campsite near Sleeping Bear Point. During the next two days I planned to hike another 20 miles along Lake Michigan to reach Platte River Point at the other end of the park. Except for some small parcels of private property, the entire stretch is managed by the National Park Service.

The mainland section of the national lakeshore comprises approximately two-thirds of the park's 71,134 acres. The Manitou Islands comprise the remaining area.

The lakeshore's name is handed down from a Chippewa Indian legend. As the story goes, long ago, in the land that is today Wisconsin, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. They swam and swam, but soon the cubs tired and lagged far behind. Mother bear finally reached the opposite shore and climbed to the top of a bluff to watch and wait for her offspring. But the cubs drowned. Today "Sleeping Bear," a solitary dune, marks the spot where the mother bear waited. Her hapless cubs are said to be the Manitou Islands. Today scientists chalk the geology of the area up to the not-nearly-as-poetic forces of ice, wind, and water.

The national lakeshore consists of much more than plateaus of sand, however. There are verdant beech-maple forests, clear lakes, miles of white beach and clear streams.


PAGE 1 2


Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Robert
Jun 06, 2008

For those of you not familiar with the area: the city referred to repeatedly in the article as Trevor City is actually Traverse City.

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
There's no trace
Posted On: Aug 19, 2014
Submitted By: big_load
Gear
shoe question
Posted On: Aug 19, 2014
Submitted By: TigerFan
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions