August 23, 2018

The Awe-Inspiring Grand Sable Dunes

Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore

From the sandy beaches on the Great Lakes to the massive dunes that tower above them, Michigan has some incredibly beautiful sandscapes. When you mention these sandy terrains to someone from Michigan, it’s likely that they think of the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes or Silver Lake Sand Dunes. But the one that stands out most to me is the Grand Sable Dunes.

The Grand Sable Dunes cover a 5 mile stretch along Lake Superior in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Towering 300 feet above Lake Superior, the dunes provide some stunning coastal views along the stretch of H-58. There are a few different places within the park that these dunes can be viewed, but in my opinion, the best view is from the top.

Log Slide

Log Slide from NCT

The Log Slide Overlook is located about 7 miles west of Grand Marias on the east side of the park. Not only is this a fantastic stop to learn about how the area was used during the lumber era, but also provides some of the best views of the dunes. The logs were sent down the dunes on a dry log chute to Lake Superior below. It’s a short walk from the parking area and well worth the stop.

Several visitor rescues have occurred at this location in recent years because people have thought it would be a good idea to descend the 300 feet to Lake Superior. While that might not seem like much, remember that it’s soft sand and nearly a vertical climb. Please think twice before taking the plunge.

North Country Trail/Lakeshore Trail

Grand Sable Dunes

One thing we learned from hiking the North Country Trail (NCT) through this region is how spectacular the park really is once you leave the crowds behind. Another reason to stop at Log Slide is that it provides visitors that opportunity to hop on the NCT and follow it east. We set up camp at the Masse Homestead (42 miles of Happiness: Hiking the Pictured Rocks), which is about a mile past the Log Slide Overlook. The campground is snuggle between the trail and the dunes, providing a great opportunity for some amazing views.

Milky Way over Grand Sable Dunes

Standing on top of the Grand Sable Dunes is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Sure, I’ve been to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes where the Empire Bluff Dune is taller but there is something about the Grand Sable Dunes that is purely magical. Time seems almost to pause. Maybe it’s the lack of people. Maybe it’s the incredible¬†sunset. Or maybe it’s visibility of the billions of stars that fill the night sky. Out of our entire hike, this was one of my favorite places.

Sable Falls

Grand Sable Dunes

I read somewhere that access to the dunes has been closed via Sable Falls but a few years ago you could make your way down to Lake Superior. Seeing these massive dunes from the shoreline is simply intimidating and breathtaking. How could sand be that tall?

Historically interesting, naturally stunning. The Grand Sable Dunes in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are worth every moment. For more information, visit Scenic Sites РPictured Rocks National Lakeshore.


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