Not all of Michigan’s great hikes are trails. This trek is a journey through Silver Lake State Park’s trailless backcountry, a mile-wide strip of dunes between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan. There’s not another hike like this in Michigan or even the Midwest because no other stretch of dunes are so barren.
Perched on a plateau and rising more than 100 feet high above Silver Lake, the heart of these dunes are totally devoid of any vegetation, even dune grass. The only thing besides sand are the stumps and trunks of ghost forests, ancient trees that the migrating dunes had buried and killed. Almost half of the hike is in this Sahara Desert-like terrain, the other half is spent strolling a stretch of Lake Michigan that is free of cottages and frozen custard stands.
A rare hike indeed.
This tree in the Al Sabo Preserve in Kalamazoo County is a frequent subject and accessory for local photographers. I have images of it from the days I was still putting film into my SLR.
Regarding the Al Sabo Preserve, the Texas Charter Township Parks & Rec page says:
The Al Sabo Land Preserve was established in the early 1970’s in order to protect the groundwater supply of the Atwater wellfield. The 741 acres were purchased in the late 1960’s and a master plan was developed for its use as a passive recreation nature preserve. The City of Kalamazoo passed an ordinance that would ensure its protection as a water resource. The wetlands and sandy soils serve as a recharge area for the area’s groundwater.
For the tenth anniversary of Michigan in Pictures last week, I asked for the 200+ fans needed to take the Michigan in Pictures Facebook past the 10,000 fan milestone. With your help, it’s blown way past that mark – thank you all so much for your support!!!
View Heather’s photo from Empire Beach in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore bigger, see more in her Winter slideshow, and definitely follow her at Snap Happy Gal Photography on Facebook for much more.
More Michigan in Pictures milestones in the archives.
Crain’s Detroit Business reported that two of Michigan’s national parks saw record numbers of visitors in 2015:
The National Parks Service says Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula and River Raisin Battlefield Park in southeastern Michigan set visitation records in 2015. The two parks, along with Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan’s northeastern coast, had more visitors through November 2015 than in 2014 and saw double-digit increases in visitors.
…The increased popularity of national parks in Michigan mirrors a nationwide trend: Overall visits to national parks are expected to reach 300 million in 2015. Last year’s figure was a record 293 million.
The park system turns 100 next year, and the Obama administration and Republican lawmakers have different ideas about what to do. Both parties agree the country’s national parks and historic sites could use some sprucing up but the question is how much of a dent Congress will make in a system-wide maintenance backlog with an estimated $11.5 billion price tag. President Barack Obama has recommended spending an additional $1.5 billion on the parks over a three-year period. Republican leaders in Congress have a smaller birthday present in mind.
Here’s hoping that our elected officials can come together to keep our National Park system strong!
Lots more on Michigan’s state & national parks on Michigan in Pictures!
Of this stunning photo from back in October at Miners Castle in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Jiqing Fan writes:
Winter is coming! The night’s watch of the North guard the last bit of colors against the white walkers (snow storm) approaching.
Lots more about Miners Castle on Michigan in Pictures!
…we understand there are numerous definitions for the criteria: Vivid, average, and poor. However, as a landscape photographer, there are certain variables I look for each evening before making the decision to take time out of my day and photograph the sunset. The most important factor I look for is sky cover, and more specifically, the existence of high clouds over the area. High clouds not only provide moisture to refract the sunlight, their ‘wispy’ formation also provides “texture” to the sky and are high enough in the atmosphere for the sun to scatter light below. Think of these as a movie theatre screen, in which light can be projected upon.
Because of this, we weighted high clouds the most as stated before, and consider this necessary for a “Vivid” sunset. In general, regions that are displayed “Poor” in the model, are areas of near 100% of total cloud cover, and also areas that are projected to experience precipitation around sunset time. The ‘hard to define’ area comes in between the two. To some, a clear sky at the time of sunset may be the definition of a great one. In this model, it is our intent to weight a clear sky sunset as average, and therefore it would show up as green or light yellow. The oranges and reds are really the areas where we are trying to show that the sunset will be one of those that makes you go ‘Wow’.
Click through to check out the live sunset forecast map – it’s pretty cool!
Lots more great Michigan sunsets on Michigan in Pictures!
Longtime readers may know that I celebrate December 1st as “Back into the Woods Day” because for my money, the hardest 15 days for the year for the non-hunting lover of the outdoors in Michigan are November 15-30th. Enjoy as you will – orange clothing not required!
The photo was taken in Michigan State University’s W.K. Kellogg Experimental Forest in Augusta, midway between Kalamazoo & Battle Creek:
Established on abandoned agricultural land, the 716-acre Kellogg Experimental Forest is known worldwide for research on tree breeding and genetics, planting techniques, and plantation establishment and management. Much of the research that developed the Spartan spruce, a hybrid that combines the color and drought resistance of a blue spruce and the softer needles and rapid growth rate of the white spruce, was done at the Kellogg Forest. The forest is open to the public for biking, hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing, and has several interpretive trails.