Every Saturday, and sometimes on Sundays, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is abuzz with activity as families, couples, groups and individuals participate in a ranger-led hike through the lakeshore. Each weekend there is a new topic presented and hike to different parts of the national park. The hikes take place all year long, even in the cold and slushy months of March, April and November. There is no charge for the hikes, but a daily or annual park pass is required to enter the park.
Participants meet their ranger at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center at either 10:00 am or 1:00 pm to start the program. The park ranger begins with an introduction to that week’s topic and then the group drives together in a caravan to the hike location. Each program lasts one to two hours with a hike of no more than 1 1/2 miles each.
Some programs do not start at the Visitors Center but rather begin at a specified location. Be sure to check on the National Park Service website for the hike location starting point.
The park service is also offering special bicyle hikes at the lakeshore this month. Be sure your bicycle is tuned, tires are inflated and the brakes work.
Participants are encouraged to check the weather before leaving home and wear clothing that is appropriate for the weather. Wear sturdy tennis or hiking shoes. Consider bringing or wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Always pack a water bottle to rehydrate you during the hike.
Lakeshore Hikes in May
May 14 - (Hike) “Returning Birds”
Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day by joining a park ranger to welcome back several species of migratory birds and learn about their winter adventures in far-off lands. This is a great opportunity for beginning birders. Bring binoculars or borrow some from the ranger.
May 21 – (Hike) “Search and Rescue”
Do you ever wonder what happens during a search and rescue? Come and learn about the process of a search and rescue on the dunes. Observe as the training takes place in the park and learn some tips to be safe in the Lakeshore. Meet at the Visitor Center in Empire for a short introduction about search and rescue and then car caravan to watch the seach and rescue team in action.
May 28, 10:00 am (Bike Tour) “Beach Ride at Platte River Campground ” (3 miles, 1 hour)
Join a Park Ranger for an adventure to learn about invasive species and the threat that they pose to our resources. This bicycle tour consists of a short ride through the woods to the beach at the end of Peterson Road. Meet at the Platte River Campground Ranger Station parking lot.
May 28, 1:00 pm (Hike) “Protecting Piping Plover Personalities”
Our endangered plovers have so much personality for being such tiny birds. Learn how we are sometimes just like the plover and catch a glimpse of them at their nesting sites.
May 28, 3:00 pm (Hike) “Heroes of the Storm”
Experience turn-of-the-century shipwreck rescue techniques with this hands-on program designed for children of all ages. Audience participation is encouraged. Meet at the Maritime Museum in Glen Haven.
May 28, 8:00 pm (Hike) “An Evening Out with a Park Ranger”
Enjoy an evening outdoors with a Park Ranger at a campground talk about the park’s natural and cultural treasures. Meet at the Platte River Campground Amphitheater. The facility is handicapped accessible.
May 29, 2:00 pm (Bike Tour) ”Recreation and Tourism: Past, Present, and Future” (9 miles, 2.5 hours)
Bicycle through history with a Park Ranger and discover how people have kicked back and relaxed along the lakeshore. What has changed over time and how might we recreate in the future? Meet at the Glen Lake Picnic Area, located off M-109, near the Dune Climb.
Reservations are not required, but are suggested if you wish to bring a group. Please call 231-326-5134, ext. 328, for details or visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore website.