Today was just about as perfect as a day could possibly get. October in Michigan can be a mixed bag, weather wise, but today was begging us to come outside and play! 72 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and a strong, warm breeze coming out of the south. So…play, we did!
We loaded up our TerraTrikes and headed to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The portion of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail that we planned on triking was from the Dune Climb back east to D. H. Day Campground. This is the portion of the trail that suffered the largest damage from the storm on August 2nd. It’s also one of the flattest portions of the trail. :). We pulled into the parking lot of the Dune Climb to see that we weren’t the only ones enjoying the beautiful weather!
Out on the trail, the fall colors were evident in a few places. With Leelanau County being surrounded by the waters of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay, the weather is moderated by their warmer temperatures in the fall. So while the rest of lower Michigan is at peak color, we still have a lot of green leaves here. In fact, a lot of those green leaves are drying up and falling to the ground before changing color!
The trail heads east through low dunes towards historic Glen Haven.
There are several restored buildings in this former lumbering and fishing town. The red cannery building in the photo now houses a maritime museum. There also is a beach here.
Farther to the east of Glen Haven is D. H. Day Campground. This is one of the old log buildings back from when this was a Michigan state park. This campground was closed for weeks following the August 2 storm, as there were hundreds of trees down. How no one was hurt, let alone killed, is beyond belief. The National Park Service did an amazing job of cleaning up the campground, as there isn’t much storm evidence left here.
That’s not the case on other portions of the trail. Many of these fallen trees will be here for years to come.
The portion of the trail we rode wasn’t too long, so we decided to go for a hike! Last week, Howard and Linda from RV-Dreams hiked the Empire Bluffs Trail and wrote a blog post about it. The trail is about 45 minutes from Wild Cherry Resort, and tucked away on the south end of the village of Empire. We’ve been coming to this area for years and never knew it existed. Proof that you learn something new every day!
At 1.5 miles round trip, this was slightly longer than the Pyramid Point trail we have been doing.
The sunlight was streaming through the trees, creating a surreal scene.
There were deep ravines and towering hills, typical of the back dunes that dot the shore of Lake Michigan in the state.
A clearing appeared to our right, and we were greeted with this view.
Here is Sleeping Bear Dunes in all its splendor. Lake Michigan to the left, North Bar Lake to the right.
The trail continues on towards Lake Michigan, and becomes a boardwalk as it crosses onto the fragile dune above the shoreline.
Once out on the dune, we were treated to this spectacular vista. The large waves that are breaking on the shore looked tiny from up here. To the left, out over the lake, South Manitou Island can be seen in the distance.
There was a steady stream of people coming out to enjoy the view.
To the south, across the shimmering water, is Point Betsie.
After soaking in the view for awhile, we headed back down the trail.
Near the parking lot, I took a photo of these trees. We aren’t quite sure if they are going to end up being colorful this next week, but we are hoping they are. A lot of the maples closer to our campground are turning quickly, and they are beautiful…so here’s hoping for some pretty colors!
On the way back home, we stopped at Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor and got Diana a piece of cherry pie. I opted for a cherry ginger ale. Yum on both counts!
So today was about as good as we could ever hope a day could be. We are certainly glad we made the decision to come back north for October!