Monday, October 11, 2010

Cottonwood Trail & Dune Climb (Sleeping Bear Dunes NL) (10/11/10)

Route Name: Cottonwood Trail and Dune Climb
Location: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Distance: 1.53 mi.
TH Elevation: 942 ft.
Elevation Gain: 233 ft.
Time: 27 min, 29 sec.

Distance: 0.64 mi.
TH Elevation: 614 ft.
Elevation Gain: 246 ft.
Time: 12 min, 35 sec.


This trip was a part of the Michigan District All Pastors' Conference in Traverse City. Sarah and I were both attending the conference where we were privileged to see Ken Ham speak during our Tuesday session. On Monday at 4pm they gave us free time for the afternoon and for supper so we decided to make the most of it. It was about a 30 mile drive from the Grand Traverse Resort (where the conference took place) to the Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore.

With about 2 hours at our disposal we decided it would be easiest to start with the scenic drive. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive starts with a drive into the forest. At this time of year it was beautiful, the colors were still strong. The first few stops on the drive gave us some nice overlooks for pictures. The views of Glen Lake were fantastic. At stop #4 finally we hit the Cottonwood Trail which I couldn't pass up.

The Cottonwood Trail is a well-marked 1.4 mile loop trail. It begins by heading down a boardwalk trail from the parking lot for a few hundred feet. The trail then veers to the right and takes you up and over a large dune. Much of the trail is on sand and carves through short brush. As the loop nears its northern end you get some views of the Sleeping Bear Dune and out to Lake Michigan. The hike back to the begin down the western arm of the loop loses elevation and the views are less striking as larger hills loom to your right.

After finishing out the Stocking Scenic Drive, which included a beautiful stop at an overlook over Lake Michigan, we made the most of the remaining 30 minutes we had and drove to the Dune Climb. This begins with a 150 foot climb up a relatively steep hill of sand to a flattened out area surrounded by small hills. I worked up the climb and then traversed around the hills topping out at 840 feet. As I made it up there I realized I was no more than a few hundred feet from the northeast corner of the Cottonwood Trail loop. I did a near full sprint down from the top of the Dune Climb back to the car which was a delight on the soft and bouncy sand.


I have track files from each of these two short hikes from Sleeping Bear Dunes. You can check them out here:

My Track


These are all of our photos from our day at Sleeping Bear Dunes:

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