Northern Michigan Outdoors: Winter hike or snowshoe Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore this winter for some Up North recreation and breathtaking vistas.
While summer is spectacular at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the winter season is beautiful in its own right. Views of Lake Michigan, Glen Lake and other waterways are unobstructed by tree leaves. Evergreens may be shrouded in snowy, glistening wonder. And every footfall of wildlife is captured for your discovery in the snow and soft earth.
Guided hikes of Sleeping Bear Dunes in winter leave at 1:00 p.m. from the National Lakeshore Visitor's Center in Empire. Bring your snowshoes if the weather warrants it, or loaners are available for free. At the Visitor's Center the Ranger will give an overview of the day's hike including tips on snowshoeing (if the weather supports that!) and directions for driving to the day's trailhead.
Hikers should expect to be outside until 3:00 p.m. and dress in layers to handle the day's weather. Snowshoe hikes on Sleeping Bear Dunes can be strenuous, but the National Park Ranger leads the group at a leisurely pace for about a mile and a half, pointing out the park's features and the season's effects on them along the way.
Winter hikes of Sleeping Bear Dunes are free, but participants should purchase a National Park entrance pass (your Michigan State Park license plate sticker doesn't qualify) or have an annual National Park pass. Reservations are required and the hikes are limited to 30 participants.
For more information, please call the National Lakeshore at 231-326-5134, extension 328, for details and to make reservations or visit the website at www.nps.gov/slbe. Also, check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sbdnl.
Want more winter trek ideas? Read "Winter Sojourns" in the February 2012 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine for seven inspiring places to hike on your next Northern Michigan winter escape. Get your copy here!