Houdek Dunes Natural Area

The last of the Leelanau Conservancy preserves we visited for the year was Houdek Dunes Naural Area.  We went there after completing our hike at Whaleback on October 19th.

Looking at the map, we hiked the entire outer loop, except the Ridgeline Trail, as we were pretty tired from the combined hikes.

At 370 acres, this property is one of the largest preserves owned by the conservancy.  A portion of the land was farmed over a century ago by Charles and Isabelle Houdek.  In 1998, the conservancy purchased it for $680,000 from a developer who intended to turn it into a golf course.  After visiting, we are so happy that did not happen.

The first portion of the trail went through a heavily forested back dune.  This is the area behind the main slope of the dunes that face Lake Michigan.  With the carpet of fallen leaves, we had a hard time making out the trail in some spots.

There was every color of the rainbow!

The maples were intense, with reds, yellows and greens.

There was fungi…

…and more fungi!

Really cool mosses……

…and more cool mosses!

One really amazing feature of Houdek Dunes are the giant white birch trees.  Normally a ‘transitional’ tree between a juvenile and mature forest, these birches have survived for over a century.

And a favorite spot for photos is this 100 year old maple.  Diana is doing her best to hug it, but that is a huge tree!

It is rumored that you can occasionally see wildlife swinging from its’ branches!

Farther along the trail there is an overlook at Houdek Creek, which is the largest tributary into northern Lake Leelanau.  Notice how clear this spring fed steam is. The sand bank is fragile, so access to the creek is discouraged.

In 2011, the descendants of Charles and Isabelle Houdek funded and built a deck overlooking the creek.  Are those glasses of wine?  Well…it is the Leelanau Peninsula…..  😃

The last part of the trail passes across a blowout dune, where the wind is winning out over the vegetation.

We thoroughly enjoyed our hike at Houdek Dunes, and we can’t wait to go back and hike the Rigeline Trail sometime in the future.

Well that wraps up our summer in Leelanau County and at Wild Cherry Resort.  We had a fabulous time!  

  Stay tuned to see what vista we explore next!
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14 thoughts on “Houdek Dunes Natural Area”

  1. What a neat hike! I love the rainbow trail:) There is something neat about hiking in the leaves. That is one big tree Diane is hugging! Where did you find that monkey!!! Boy, they let anyone out on the trails:) What a perfect end to your great summer!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post to summarize your summer and add a little new stuff at the same time.

    I got waylaid when I saw those fungi photos. We used to have these fungi we called “puff balls” — they would grow to be 12” across or more and if you hit them they’d explode in a burst of tiny fragments like an explosion — and you know, I haven’t seen one for 30 years. What made me think of them I have no idea. they were quite beautiful in their own way. Oh, well….

    Glad you guys had so much fun workamping. It’s a blast when you find the right place to work. Have been wondering how much we’ll be able to do in the future — waiting to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Our friends Lane and Patti may have found those puff balls you are referring to on a hike this summer. Lane is good at spotting both fungi and Petoskey stones. Diana and I were amazed at the variety of flora that exists up there.

      I’m sure there is more work camping in your future, Peter. All positives! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There are a lot of birches that big on that preserve, Jim. It’s worth checking out, if you ever get to Leelanau. The whole conservancy thing was icing on the cake for the summer!


  3. I think spending the summer in the Leelanau sounds like a great idea. I will definitely keep your posts to plan any future trips we can make up there. The fall leaves on the trail are beautiful and I’m always happy to see another tree hugger. Maybe some day we can meet up and hug trees together on a trail.

    Liked by 1 person

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