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Contact: Philip A. Hart Visitor Center, 231-326-5134, ext. 328
The popular “Saturdays at the Lakeshore” continue in March with National Park Rangers leading guided hikes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This month’s hikes will focus on the change in seasons as the natural world breaks out of winter’s grip. Hikers will seek out the first signs of spring, observe what happened under the snow, search for shipwrecks cast up by winter storms, and witness history’s impact on our forest communities.
All hikes begin at 1:00 p.m. at the Visitor Center in Empire. After a brief introduction, the group will travel a short distance by car to a specific location. Hikers will be out about an hour and a half and the activity will be concluded by 3:00 p.m. Some hikes may be moderately strenuous, but are suitable for folks of all ages. Parents are encouraged to bring their children along.
- March 10 - Break Up – It’s not spring yet but winter is beginning to loosen its grip. We will seek out those islands of brown to observe the first signs of the new season. Why do some spots change so much faster? What is happening under the snow? Which animals are coming out of their winter dens? What are the dangers of spring? These are just some of the questions we will explore along our hike.
- March 17 - Michigan’s Sweetest Tradition – The hard work of making maple syrup not only provided Michigan’s early residents with their only source of sweetening, but it gave them an opportunity to join together to celebrate the end of winter with bonfires and treats. We will hike to a historic sugar house, see some syruping supplies and imagine having to work the trees for your sugar! Join us as we explore Michigan’s sweetest tradition.
- March 24 – What Can the Forests Tell Us? – It’s not just the park’s historic buildings that reflect the history of the area. Our forests also mirror past events of both man and nature. This is an excellent time to hike the forest before the leaves return and find clues from the past that explain what happened here and when? The forests have a lot of stories to tell.
- March 31 - Beach Combing for Shipwrecks – You might need an extra sweater, but for the serious beachcomber, early spring is the best time to observe rare treasures. Winter storms have removed tons of sand from the beaches and often uncover old shipwrecks. Learn how to recognize boat timbers and other related items and put those skills to work while walking on an isolated beach. Since all shipwreck and other historic objects within the park are protected, you may help the ranger document new finds and take home lots of pictures and memories.
The hikes are free and reservations are not required; participants need only purchase a park pass to join in the fun ($10/vehicle, valid for seven days; or $20/vehicle, for an entire year). For more information about the schedule or other Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore activities, please call the Visitor Center at 231-326-5134, ext. 328.