…is a Federally designated wilderness in Michigan’s lower peninsula and encompasses 3,450 acres of National Forest. Nordhouse Dunes is part of the Ludington Dune Ecosystem, which also includes Lake Michigan Recreation Area, and Ludington State Park. The dunes were formed 3,500 to 4,000 years ago and stand up to 140 feet high. Ludington Dune Ecosystem has the largest area of fresh water interdunal ponds in the world. The interdunal ponds, small water holes and marshes, decorate the area. Dune grass covers many of the dunes and provides habitat for a variety of wildlife species.
The Nordhouse Dunes are interspersed with woody vegetation such as juniper, jack pine and hemlock. Plant life is varied and includes the Federally Endangered Pitcher’s Thistle. The sand beach along the lake varies from narrow to wide and is home to the Federally Endangered Piping Plover, a shore bird that nests on the ground in small cobbles.
The wilderness area is popular for hiking, camping, hunting, nature study and wildlife viewing. There are approximately 10-miles of trail that can be accessed from 2 developed trailheads at the end of Nurnberg Road and Lake Michigan Recreation Area.
More Michigan sunrises on Michigan in Pictures!
The author of my favorite Michigan blogs writes that Michigan is blessed with some of the most beautiful and tallest coastal sand dunes on the planet. He decided to climb some and put together a big old list of 87 Michigan’s ‘skyscraper’ Coastal Dunes that he could verify at 100′ or more in height.
This photo is from the tallest one, the 526-foot Empire Bluff Dune in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (which includes many of the tallest). To put this in perspective, it’s almost exactly 200′ shorter that our tallest building, the Renaissance Center in Detroit as well as One Detroit Center and the Penobscot, but it’s taller than the 4th highest – the Guardian Building.
More photos and a list of all the dunes on the post, including the option to follow!
More dunes on Michigan in Pictures.
Few places in Michigan have the expansive view of the Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It’s 450′ feet down to the water, so remember that freedom comes at a price!
Warren Dunes State Park has three miles of shoreline and six miles of hiking trails on nearly 2000 acres. It is open year-round, and the centerpiece is the dune formation that rises 260 feet above the lake and offers spectacular views. It’s also our busiest state park!
More about Edward K Warren & Warren Dunes on Michigan in Pictures.
USA Today has a feature on Hang Gliding Sites in Michigan that says (in part):
Most individuals will need lessons in hang gliding from a certified instructor prior to their first flight. Hang gliding schools provide instructions, gear, permits and safety equipment. The Draachen Fliegen Soaring Club is located in Cloud 9 Field between Detroit and Lansing, with instructors offering “tandem discovery” flights lasting from 15 minutes to one hour. Gliders drift in air space up to two miles high, in tandem with an instructor. Individuals with proven experience and certifications may rent gliders for solo flights. Traverse City Hang Gliders offers full programs of training and instruction in both traditional powerless hang gliding and “the Mosquito” powered hang gliding harness.
Hang gliding enthusiasts can enjoy practicing the sport at national parks within the state of Michigan, including Sleeping Bear Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Several spots within the park are approved for powerless flight. Hang gliders can take off and land at Empire Bluff, Pyramid Point and Lake Michigan Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, as well as Dune Climb in the months of November through March. Powerless flight permits are required and can be obtained free of charge at the Visitor Center Information Desk. Launch sites within the park require proficiency ratings established by the U.S. Hang Gliding Association. Gliders must also follow safety and federal regulations. Warren Dunes State Park also issues permits for hang gliding along the coastal dunes, about 14 miles from the state border with Indiana. Favorite launch and return sites within the park include Tower Hill and New Buffalo.
In the 1970s, Elberta Beach and the adjacent city of Frankfort, in Northern Michigan, were popular spots for what was then the new sport of hang gliding. Once referred to as the “Sail Plane Capital,” the area is still a magnet for gliders today. Just south of Frankfort, gliders can experience the thrill of soaring over sand dunes at Green Point Dunes. The Green Point Flyers Association, established in 1978, is a club for both hang gliders and parasailers, with a main flying site that is a sand dune stretching for three miles at a height of 370 feet. Licenses are required to fly at Green Point, and certified instructors are available. Pilots at Green Point also have access to hang gliding sites inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, as well as the bluffs of Elberta. Visitors can also team up for a ride with members of the Northwest Soaring Club, which is located in Cadillac, Michigan. Flights depart from the Wexford County Airport, then cruise over Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac.
If you’d like to get a look at the process, here’s a video of aerial photographer Jim Anderson taking a flight from the Bluffs!