Ice Caves No Longer Safe
The ice formations in Leelanau Township, north of the park, are no longer safe to visit. High winds have fractured the ice, moving it to the west. Huge cracks have formed in the cave arches, making them very unsafe and open water is now visible.
A majority of the forest lands in the Lakeshore were logged in the past. Still, enough time has passed and the forests have regrown to where they now exhibit the immense tree sizes and dense overgrowth of the past. The majority of the upland forests are extensive stands of mature beech and sugar maple hardwoods. This forest type also has a good representation of hemlock, white pine, basswood, and white ash. There will also be some red oak, ironwood and black cherry. In some of the forest openings and former disturbed areas you will find white and yellow birch, and quaking and big tooth aspen. Jack pine and oak can be found near the coastline of Lake Michigan. One of the most appealing aspects of this forest is the rich, ephemeral flower display of the forest floor in the spring. The forest is carpeted with spring beauty, trillium, Jack-in-the –pulpit, hepatica, Canada violets, trout lily, bloodroot, and Dutchman’s-breeches.
SouthManitouIsland offers an impressive example of the earliest, untouched forest, including a grove of giant northern white cedar trees. What a thrill to touch one of these trees that have seen hundreds of years of history. On almost any trail hike within the Lakeshore, visitors will see massive beech, maple, black cherry, oak, and white ash trees or large white and red pines that are reaching for the sunshine through the hardwoods. Watch for the squirrels who always are looking for a meal under these trees and listen for the chipmunks who let everyone know they do not like to be disturbed during their morning snack.
Did You Know?
The Pitcher's thistle is an endangered plant species that is native to the dunes around the Great Lakes. You will find many of them as you hike through the dunes or along the Lake Michigan shores at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. More...