Windy Moraine Trail

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Distance Loop of 1.5 miles in length
Terrain Hilly
Vegetation Beech-maple forest, fields, and pine plantation
Comments A self-guiding brochure with the theme of biodiversity is available at the trailhead. From the Windy Moraine Overlook, you can see Glen Lake, Lake Michigan, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes
The Windy Moraine trail takes you through a field to the moraine left from when the last glaciers melted about 10,000 years ago. You will climb to the top of the hill on a modest incline through a beech-maple forest and a pine plantation. From the top of the moraine, you will get a few good views of Glen Lake. Views are best when the leaves are off the trees, but even in the summer you will get some nice views of the lake.
As you hike the trail, you will see 9 numbered posts. Be sure to pick up a trail map at the trailhead and stop at each post to read about the trees, birds, or other natural resources described.

About half way through the hike, you will find a Soil Exhibit explaining the type of soil in this area which supports the plants and animals who make this their home.

If we think of soil at all, we tend to think of it as commonplace and unlimited. The truth is that soil is an irreplaceable resource of great complexity, beauty, and fragility. Along with air and water it interacts with the web of life, and must be protected to maintain a healthy environment for living things.

The Kalkaska Soil Series covers a million acres of Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas, one of the factors that led to it being chosen as the official State Soil. Kalkaska is a well-drained soil of cold climate that formed on glacial sand and gravels since the retreat of the last ice some 10 to 12 thousand years ago. It is common in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area. Sometimes called “loamy gold” because of its woodland productivity, the typical natural forest cover includes sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch, and ash.

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Tweddle/Treat Farm

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Now for a “Treat” you’ll have to take a hike – but it is well worth the effort! The trail that leads from the corner of Norconk Road into the woods is about ½ mile long through the maple-beech forest and will take you to the Treat Farm. As you reach the top of the hill, the canopy of trees opens up to a view of the farmstead. A portion of the original barn has been rebuilt on the original foundation.

Visitors are drawn to this intriguing farmstead for several reasons. The trail leading up the slight incline from Norconk Road holds an allure of its own… it seems to beckon passers-by. It piques the curiosity by conjuring visions of what might be at its terminus. It is also one of the most beautiful areas for spring wildflowers in all of Michigan!

When you reach the site, a fantastic array of buildings greets you: the old farmhouse, the barns, a truly unique garage and root cellar and assorted old sheds. You can practically hear the farmer directing the team as they hay the fields. Evidence of crop placement and the family’s private garden plot are readily apparent if you’re looking for the right clues!

The trail follows the edge of the field for about 0.5 miles to the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. This hike is beautiful in all seasons of the year. The spring and summer show off a wide array of wildflowers, autumn offers colored leaves in contrast to the blues of Lake Michigan, and winter provides great skiing and snowshoeing. If your energy is still high and your sense of adventure not quite quenched, hike to the top of Old Baldy for a panoramic vista. It goes without saying that all of this should only be undertaken with camera equipment & supplies in tow.

The first building on this property was believed to be a log cabin built by John Tweddle around 1840 just west of the current house. This one-room log house was used as a playhouse for the children until the 1930s. No evidence of the log house remains. The Tweddle family built the current farmhouse around 1880, and they later moved to the corner of Norconk Road, where they built the Tweddle farmstead described above.

Charles Treat and his wife, Martha, purchased 220 acres west of Norconk Road from Mr. Tweddle in 1912. Treat purchased the barn in the Detroit area and had it disassembled, with each piece numbered. The barn was shipped in two railroad cars to the Empire area. From there it was moved to the site using a horse-drawn team. Charles Treat built the foundation and reassembled the barn. The house, chicken coop, and carpentry workshops were already at the farm when the Treat family moved here.

The family called the house the “Senate”. Later one of Charles’ sons, either James or Donald, built another house of cement block near Norconk Road. This became known as the “House of Representatives”. This house has been removed.

A major problem for the Treat family was the lack of running water at the farm. They hired a contractor to drill a well. He worked at it for over a year, and found that he had to go down about 300 feet to find water. In a short time the well clogged with sand, so a series of gutters was added to the roof of the house to drain rain water into a cistern built into the ground. This system of rain water collection can be seen today as you walk to the rear of the house. The kitchen had a small pump over the sink to pump out of the cistern. This was the only running water in the house.

Additional water was brought up to the farm from a spring about ¼ mile east of the house. The small spring was on the side of one of the valleys by the road. A small pool was excavated into the side of the hill and a pipe was used to bring the water down to the road. Water was transported to a wooden tank near the barn. A tub was used to water the animals and the rest was carried to the house.

The original front porch of the house was removed and rebuilt with a concrete foundation. This design allowed a basement workshop to be built under the porch. A forge was also added under the porch with a vent to a metal smokestack located off the wood shed. The forge was used to make metal hinges and tools for woodworking. Most of these parts were for family use, not for sale. Some of the tools are preserved at the Empire Area Museum.

Charles Treat was an engineer, and he loved to experiment and invent things that could be used around the farm. After pouring the foundation for the barn, he continued to experiment with concrete. He probably started with the root cellar, which is a rounded concrete structure built into the hill near the garage. Later he built the garage using an eggshell design. The walls were first constructed with 4” thick rebar reinforced concrete.

Then the roof was started with a heavy frame of cedar with an earthen form around it. The concrete was poured one bucket at a time. Steel rebar was bent to the circular design we see today. The roof was 2.5 inches thick with a spiral rebar pattern for strength.

Most of the crops grown by the Treat family were for their own consumption. They grew asparagus, apples, beans, plumbs, potatoes, and raspberries. They also grew corn and hay to feed the animals. They had two unshod horses, which they used to work the land. They milked about 12 Jersey cows by hand twice each day. They used the milk and separated cream. Chickens provided eggs and meat. They didn’t raise hogs even though ham was one of their favorite meats.

Within a few years the sandy soil began to deplete, but with addition of manure and commercial fertilizers along with crop rotation, they continued farming into the 1930s.

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Teichner Preserve

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Teichner Preserve is a 41-acre parcel located on the northeast shore of the lake, was gifted to the Leelanau Conservancy in 1996. Open to the public, a trail and boardwalk lead through extensive wetlands and forested lowlands to the lake shore.

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South Manitou Island

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South Manitou Island is part of an island chain that extends north to the Straits of Mackinac. The island consists of a ridge of tilted layers of limestone, buried under a blanket of glacial debris. Glaciers carved out the Lake Michigan basin. When the basin filled with water, the peaks of the ridge remained exposed as islands. During post-glacial times, winds blowing on the high, sandy bluffs on the west side of the island moved sand inland, forming perched dunes. The dunes are a fragile environment. Please stay on existing paths and avoid stepping on plants.

Tucked away on the southwest corner of the island is a grove of virgin white cedar trees. One of the fallen trees showed 528 growth rings, dating its existence to before Columbus.

The South Manitou Island Lighthouse is the most familiar landmark on the island and is clearly visible from the mainland. The 100 foot lighthouse tower, active from 1871 to 1958, marked the location of the only natural harbor between here and Chicago. Ships took refuge here during storms and steamers stopped at the island to refuel with wood for their boilers. The keeper’s quarters (building on the right) is connected by a covered passage. Be sure to get a tour when you are on the island and climb to the top for a spectacular view.

The Coast Guard Station

In 1901 the U.S. Life-Saving Service built a station on the island to assist ships in distress. The life-savers could row out in their surfboat or use a line-throwing gun and breeches buoy to rescue stranded sailors. A wreck from this era, the Three Brothers (1911), is located just off shore between the dock and the lighthouse. There is a sign describing the shipwreck along the trail to the lighthouse. In 1915 the U.S. Life-Saving Service became part of the U.S. Coast Guard.

After World War II, modern equipment ushered in a new era in life-saving. This was demonstrated on the cold, stormy night of November 29, 1960 when the Liberian freighter, Fransisco Morazan ran aground on the southwest shore of the island. Three Coast Guard cutters and a helicopter rescued the fifteen people on board. The battered wreck is still visible today. As a mark of the changing times, the station was permanently closed in 1958.

The Coast Guard Station now functions as the South Manitou Island Ranger Station and is not open to the public. It is a private residence and office.

The Manitou Passage State Underwater Preserve

This preserve was established in 1988 to conserve the historic and archeological value of over fifty known shipwreck sites, dating from 1835 to 1960. For more information about the preserve, contact a Park Ranger. These sites are protected by state and/or federal law.

Barn on South Manitou Island

Kerry Kelly 2005

The Farms

Farming developed slowly on the island, but by 1870 most islanders were self-sufficient farmers. Surplus crops were sold to passing ships and mainland markets. The isolation of the island provided an ideal environment for growing prize-winning rye, beans and peas. Today, there are no active farms on the island, but farm buildings, abandoned machinery, the old school and cemetery are reminders of the past.

Motorized Tour

A motorized tour of South Manitou Island is available. Sign up with the Manitou Island Transit on your way to the island. The tour uses some of the old Dunesmobiles that were once used to ride the Sleeping Bear Dunes. You will be taken to the island cemetery, some of the farms, and the restored school house.

Planning Your Island Visit

A trip to South Manitou Island takes a little planning. The passenger ferry is operated by Manitou Island Transit (231-256-9061). You will want to call ahead for reservations and be sure to pack a lunch. Auto tours of the farming area are also available, so you can see more of the island than you can by hiking.

Fires

Fires are permitted in community fire rings only. Dead and down wood may be used. Cutting any standing vegetation, alive or dead, is prohibited. Fires are prohibited on the beaches.

Pets

Pets are not allowed on the island due to disturbance of visitors and wildlife.

Trash

Deposit all trash in receptacles located at the boathouse near the dock.

Water

Water is available at the Village, Bay Campground, Weather Station Campground, and at the School House. Water is not available at Popple Campground. Please do not use pump areas for bathing or dishwashing.

Hiking

For safety, hike with a companion and notify someone of your route and expected return time. Wear footgear that gives good support. Terrain varies from sandy beaches to gravel and boulder-surfaced slopes. Carry drinking water. Please stay on designated trails to avoid causing erosion and damage to plants. This is especially important in sensitive areas such as the old growth cedars, dunes and steep bluffs.

CAUTION: Hiking on steep bluffs is dangerous

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Sleeping Bear Point Trail

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Distance Loop of 2.8 miles with a spur to Lake MI about 0.5 miles from the trailhead
Terrain Rolling dunes
Vegetation Dune grasses, shrubs, and wildflowers
Comments This is a shorter and less strenuous trail through the dunes than the Dune Trail that starts at the Dune Climb. This also has a spur providing access to Lake Michigan.

The Sleeping Bear Point Trail is a 2.8 mile loop through the sand dunes with great views of Lake Michigan and South Manitou Island. There is a 0.5 mile spur hike from the trailhead to the Lake Michigan beach. It is less strenuous than the hike from the Dune Climb to Lake Michigan.

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Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

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End Points:

  • 44.895960, -86.018567
  • 44.893024, -85.994791
A great way to get to many of the places within the Lakeshore, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is a paved, non-motorized, multi-use trail planned to span 27 miles from the northern end of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at County Road 651 to the Leelanau/Benzie County line at Manning Road south of Empire. Currently the trail runs over 9 miles from the village of Empire to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, the Dune Climb, Glen Haven Historic Village, D.H. Day Campground, and on into the village of Glen Arbor. The next segment of trail to be built will go north from Glen Arbor to Port Oneida Road in 2015. The main trailhead is at the Dune Climb. The trail begins at the north end of the parking lot there. Other trailheads can be found at the base of Alligator Hill on Day Forest Road in Glen Arbor; at Glen Haven, at Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, and at the intersection of Voice and Bar Lake Roads near Empire (soon!). A park pass is required to use the trail within the park.
This trail is handicap accessible and is designed for walkers, runners, skiers, people on bicycles, in wheelchairs, and babies in strollers. Some stretches have steep grades, and these are noted on trailhead signs and are marked with warning signs on the trail. 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 from the Dune Climb, so park your car there 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.
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.
Distance 9.7 miles one way
Terrain Flat between the Dune Climb and Glen Arbor; hilly between the Dune Climb and Empire.
Vegetation Field and beech-maple forest, white cedar stands

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Shauger Hill Trail

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End Points:

  • 44.850963, -86.036477
  • 44.844463, -86.059039
Distance Loop of 2.4 miles in length
Terrain Hilly
Vegetation Beech-maple forest, a few small clearings, and pine plantation
Comments The trail crosses Shauger Hill Road twice and the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive twice. Be careful crossing roads. This trail is part of the Scenic Drive Ski Trail. This is a Designated X-Country Ski Trail and pets are not allowed on this section of the trail between December 1 and March 31. The section of the Scenic Drive Ski Trail that is on the roadway of the Scenic Drive does allow pets on a leash.

Shauger Hill trail goes through primarily maple-beech forest and some pine forest in pretty hilly terrain.

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