|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – June 2009
Trek through a trio of wilderness playgrounds on shape-shifting mountains of sand.
SLEEPING BEAR DUNES, MI
Explore America's Third Coast.
Towering above Lake Michigan, the dunes at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore are mightier than many of this state's pine-topped mountains. The tallest drifts are 200 feet high and sit atop the already-lofty bluffs lining the lake. These "perched" dunes cover 15 square miles of lakeshore. Take the four-mile (round-trip) Dunes Trail to an isolated beach perfect for an early-summer swim. The route begins at the Dune Climb, a popular 10-minute slog to the top of the sand with views over Glen Lake's azure waters to the east. From there, follow the blue-tipped posts west. In spring and early summer, wildflowers such as wood lily and red anemone bloom among the tufts of dunegrass. Bring a towel so you can kick back on the beach and listen to Lake Michigan's lapping. $10/vehicle; nps.gov/slbe; (231) 326-5134
Sandy toes are welcome at Tiffany's (231-326-5337), an ice cream shop in Empire that scoops homemade sweets.
From the visitor center in Empire, drive five miles north on MI 22, then take MI 109 to the Dune Climb parking lot and trailhead.