Snowy Getaway at Sleeping Bear
If you've only visited the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in summer, you don't really know this Bear. In winter, when the landscape is cloaked in white, and cold forces the big lake into wondrous shades of blue, green and white, the Sleeping Bear is in its elemental glory. Click on your skis or strap on your snowshoes, and come along for a getaway that will replenish your soul.
Mar 4, 2008 Elizabeth Edwards
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The Windy Moraine
This 1.5 mile-loop, located off M-109 about 2 miles north of Empire, is a lovely patchwork of lakeshore landscape that culminates in a magnificent view from a glacier-formed knoll. The twisty, undulating and tree-lined trail is best suited to intermediate or better skiers, but snowshoes make it a cinch. Keep the Windy Moraine trail map handy (available at the lakeshore visitors center or at the trailhead); it offers a point-by-point interpretive tour. The map will also help you stay on the trail, which can become obscure where it wends through fields, particularly after a good snowfall. But don't worry - you can't stray far from civilization, or your car.
Even without the map you can't help but notice the mammoth, century-old sugar maple located about a quarter-mile in. Take a seat on the bench and try to count the jungle of limbs. Sidle up to it and try to stretch your arms around the trunk - a feat only Paul Bunyan could handle. Rested? Up and at 'em through more woods to the top of a hill and an old farm field that looks out over the Glen Lakes. On a clear day you can see all the way to Lake Michigan's Sleeping Bear Bay. There's a fun geology lesson from this lofty perch: it's easy to see that the Glen Lakes were once a bay of Lake Michigan, landlocked when the lake level fell several thousand years ago. It's mostly downhill now - through the field, more hardwoods and a pine plantation. Where the pines end, look for the leg that leads through a field and back to the trailhead.
Not ready to call it a weekend? The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a stone's throw away, across M-109. While the entire 7.4-mile loop is best accessed by car in the summer, the leg that forks right is a sweet, several-mile out-and-back ski that leads over a covered bridge and out to an overlook of Big and Little Glen Lakes.
Elizabeth Edwards is managing editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine
. firstname.lastname@example.orgNote: This article was first published in January 2005 and was updated for the web February 2008.