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.
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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