Duneside Accessible Trail of Leelanau County, Michigan
Photo by Kerry Kelly
0.9 miles long.
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. This information is available on a cassette tape, which can be borrowed with a cassette player at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire. Mosquitoes can be a problem along the wooded half of the trail on warm days.
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.
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.
Return to Leelanau County, MI Trails Page
Permission and information sources are from Contributers to this Web Site, the Department of Natural Resources, Michigan.gov, National Park Service,
and the USDA Forest Service.