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.
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
Kerry Kelly 2012
This trail is handicap accessible and is designed for walkers, runners, skiers, people on bicycles, in wheelchairs, and babies in strollers. Because people will be using the trail in a variety of ways, please be aware of others going at different speeds.
The historic logging village of Glen Haven is only 2 miles away, so park your car at the Dune Climb and ride your bike or walk along the base of the dunes and through the cedar forest to the museums, blacksmith shop, general store, and beaches of Glen Haven.
Parking for the trail is at the Dune Climb and at Glen Haven. The trail begins at the north end of the picnic area and parking lot. A park pass is required to park at these sites.
The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes manages and maintains the bike trail. They have over 40 Trail Ambassadors who ride or walk the trail on a regular basis. If you see one of these folks wearing the bright orange vest, feel free to ask them questions about the trail or the Park. They'll be happy to assist you.
To learn more about the trail and the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, or to become a Trail Ambassador, check out their web site.
Download a map.
Kerry Kelly 2006
One of the first interpretive stops along the trail demonstrates how the dunes are moving. In 1985, this wooden beam was placed at the edge of the sand dune. It is marked every foot from the end. When this photo was taken in 2006, the dune was at about 55 feet from the end, so the dune is moving an average of about 2.6 feet per year.
The dunes here rise to a height of 150 feet at an angle of about 25 degrees. Sand dunes are formed by the wind. Grains of sand are just the right size to roll or bounce along the ground pushed by a brisk wind. When the wind dies down, the sand comes to rest eventually forming a dune. Since the prevailing winds are from the southwest, the dunes are moving to the northeast. Active dunes exist only about 1 mile from the Lake Michigan shore. Further inland, the winds lose energy allowing plants to become established in the sand.
These dunes are not desert dunes. Dig under the surface and you'll find moisture, which sustains a variety of specialized plants which help stabilize the dune.
Did You Know?
The Great Lakes were the highway of the past. It was the main way that cargo and passengers moved through this area until roads were established. A variety of boats used on the Great Lakes are on display at the Cannery in Glen Haven within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. More...