Sunday, November 20, 2011

A day at the dunes

Old Baldy

Are you looking to combine a day at the dunes with a hike or quick trail ride?Look no further that the Old Baldy trail.

Old Baldy can be found just north of the quaint town of Arcadia, on scenic M22.The sign sits on the west side of the road 1,000 feet north of the state scenicoverlook. This hiking trail was developed and is maintained by the GrandTraverse Land Conservancy (GTLC) in an effort to protect significant natural,scenic and farm lands through advancing stewardship. Basically the GTLC is agroup of devoted people who love the natural resources that Northern Michiganhas to offer, and who wish to share it with everyone.

Once you step out of your car you immediately get the feeling that you are theonly person for miles around, a feeling that is often difficult to accomplishwith our ever-growing population.
The GTLC has put up a notice and map board at the head of the trail that givesdates and times of scheduled hikes and trail maintenance dates.

There are two options when you reach the actual trail. The longer of the twotrails is a little over 1 ½ miles one way and offers a nice break from the sunwith dense canopies of old growth deciduous trees and a path that climbs, dropsand double-backs on itself a few times to give you a great feel for the terrainof the area, and also a great respect for the force of the glaciers that shapedthis area.

                                                                     Thetrail is hard-packed single track the whole way.

The shorter trail is just 0.7 mile of very much the same landscape features as thelong trail.


At the end of the trailyou will come to a set of stairs that lead up to the dune area. If you broughtbikes find a tree to chain them to and head up.

Once you make it to thedune area you will be taken aback by the scenery.  

The dunes are surprisingin their size and the fact that they just sort of appear once you leave thewoods. Once you are in the dune area though, let loose! (But be sure to stay onthe paths so the dunes can be enjoyed by future guests) Take the time to explorethe unique landscape. (If you go to the Grand Traverse Land Conservancy websiteyou can download guides for the distinct plants that make their home in thedune environment.)

To truly get a feeling for how large Old Baldy is, run down the dune to LakeMichigan and look up, if you didn’t appreciate the size from the top you willdefinitely do so from the bottom. If you feel like a little more riding orbiking after your jaunt out to the dunes cross M22 and check out the othertrails that the GTLC has: Chestnut Trail/ Dry Hills Trail. That trail can be hiked, but itis best enjoyed on a bike.

The trip back up will mostcertainly stir up a hunger for some ice cream at the Ice Cream Parlor insideArcadia Marine or a beer at Riggers.

Old Baldy is a great place to take kids as it is an easy bike or hike that willnot tire them out. It is also the kind of place where one can go to embracesolitude if you feel like taking a solo trip.

We are truly lucky to have such an area like this, not only Old Baldy, but theentirety of the Lake Michigan Shoreline, and such a perfect path as M22 toguide us along the bays, dunes, peaks, beaches and little towns and villagesthat dot the landscape. Take some time out of your busy day/ week to exploreyour own little piece of Pure Michigan. I know that I sure do, and it keeps thebody healthy and the mind sane.

Old Baldy is open to hikers, joggers, mountain bikers, snow-shoers and cross-countryskiers.

1 comment:

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

I really need to get myself there!