Dune Hiking at Silver Lake State Park – March 29, 2013
I had Friday off from work for the Easter weekend and it was the start of spring break for the kids. It was a nice sunny day so we took a drive up to Silver Lake State Park and spent the afternoon wandering around in the sand dunes. This dune area is one of the most unique places that you will find in lower Michigan. We have hiked through here a few times and with the constantly shifting dunes every visit is a little different.
Heading up the steps into the Silver Lake Dunes Pedestrian Area. At the top of the stairs we found what we thought was steep wall of sand. When the girls started to climb it they realized that it was actually a big snow drift covered in sand. After trying to climb it a few times and sliding back down we walked over to the other set of stairs to the north.
The second set of steps runs right along the exit of the ORV area and was much easier to climb. This is a very busy place in the summer months, but today the only vehicles that we saw were two DNR trucks putting up signs in preparation for the up coming season.
Heading off into the open dunes. We met four other people as we headed out, but other than that we had the dunes all to ourselves. In the top right of the photo you can see the fence and signs that separate the hiking area from the ORV area.
Making a stop in a low area between the dunes to find the Valley of the Sands geocache.
After walking a little further we stopped in a sand bowl to take rest. It felt good to get down out of the cool breeze blowing off Lake Michigan and warm up in the sun.
Reid having fun playing in the giant Silver Lake sandbox.
All through Silver Lake State Park you find interesting ghost trees that died when they were buried by the shifting sands.
A panoramic shot looking out to Lake Michigan from the top of a dune. We planned to walk to the lake, but didn’t end up making it all the way there.
The little foot prints in the sand always disappear too soon.
More Silver Lake ghost trees.
One thing that happens at Lake Michigan in the spring is that it can be sunny one minute and then the next, fog moves on shore. When it came in and blocked most of the sun it got very cool and it was time to get moving again.
The fog made for some interesting photo opportunities.
Leaf prints in the sand.
To the kids this a just a big sandy playground. After watching the video we noticed she is doing all this with a sucker in her mouth.
Heading back to the parking area through the huge open dunes.
View Silver Lake Sand Dunes 3/29/2013 1:35pm in a larger map;
Our hike ended up being about 2.7 miles long, but it felt much longer because of the soft sand….and the 35 pound boy on my back. It was another interesting walk and it was nice to be up here in the quiet off-season.
For more on this hike see: Best Hikes with Children in Michigan
After the hike we drove over to visit the Little Sable Point Lighthouse.
The fog was again rolling in off Lake Michigan and it made for some interesting lighting at times. A few minutes after this shot the tower was almost completely hidden by the fog.
Everyone was getting hungry so we stopped at the Sands Restaurant. There were a few cars parked outside and we could see some people sitting inside, but when we walked in we found that they were still closed for the season. There are not many other options right by Silver Lake other than small ice cream and food stands that were also still boarded up for the winter.
For plan B we drove into Hart and had dinner at Hart Pizza. This little place was a good find in a small town. The inside was nice and looked like it was either new or recently remodeled. The pizza had really good homemade hand tossed crust and the service was friendly. The kids liked the big sheets or paper on the table for coloring while we waited.
After dinner it was time to get back in the car for a relaxing driver back home.
With 3 small children this has become one of our favorite hiking guides. This is really a good book for anyone looking to get out and find short, but interesting hikes all over the state. Like all of the books written by Mr. DuFresne there are well written trail descriptions and nice maps of each outing.
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