• Looking out at the lake

    Sleeping Bear Dunes

    National Lakeshore Michigan

Duneside Accessible Trail

Distance

Round trip is 0.9 miles

Terrain

Flat

Vegetation

Field and beech-maple forest, white cedar stands

Comments

The trail follows the edge of the dune near the Dune Climb. This trail is designed for use by all park visitors including those using wheelchairs and the visually impaired. There are signs along the trail to interpret nature. Mosquitoes can be a problem along the wooded half of the trail on warm days.


Click to download a map in pdf format.

 
Dunes Trail Map
Dunes Hiking Trails
NPS Map 2006
 
Duneside Trail

Duneside Trail at the Dune Climb

Kerry Kelly 2006

The Duneside Interpretive Trail is located at the base of the dunes near the Dune Climb. The trail begins at the north end of the picnic area and parking lot. The trail is level and made of packed graded crushed limestone, so it is easy to walk or to push a wheelchair on. You will find several interpretive signs and benches along the trail.
 
The Moving Dune Exhibit

The Moving Dune Exhibit

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?

Purple Loostrife is an invasive species

In the US, invasive species are the second biggest threat to native ecosystems after habitat loss. They reduce diversity, alter disturbance regimes, and have cascading effects on food webs, costing upwards of $140 Billion per year. More...