Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Tag: Lake Michigan (Page 1 of 4)

Hiking Sleeping Bear: Alligator Hill

View from the lookout on the Alligator Hill Trail

This past summer, we took a weekend camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Located on Lake Michigan, just south of Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes is one of the most beautiful places in the state! Usually, when we visit the dunes, we head for the Empire Bluff Trail, which ends in one of the best lookouts in the state. This time, we decided to try something different and hike the Alligator Hill Trail, one of the most popular trails in the park.

Although longer than the short Empire Bluff Trail, Alligator Hill was an easier hike. It was a gradual uphill for most of the 1.3 mile hike to the lookouts. By avoiding the intermediate and advanced trails and stopping at each of the lookouts, this hike is 4.1 miles round trip, but much less strenuous than climbing to the top of Empire Bluff. The view from the overlooks was nice, but it didn’t compare to the striking sand cliff at Empire Bluff.

After hiking Alligator Hill, I have some recommendations for hikers at Sleeping Bear Dunes. If you are looking for a fairly easy day hike, with some nice views, you can’t go wrong with Alligator Hill. If you’re up for something a little more strenuous with absolutely amazing views, hike Empire Bluff. I was glad we hiked the Alligator Hill trail, but the next time we’re at the dunes, we will go back to Empire Bluff instead!

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back next week to read more about our weekend at Sleeping Bear Dunes! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Beaver Island Lighthouse

A Day on Beaver Island

Evening on the Beaver Island Ferry

Beaver Island, the largest island on Lake Michigan, is known as America’s Emerald Isle. While bigger than Mackinac, Beaver Island is a much smaller community. With many inland lakes, nature is a big draw on Beaver Island.

For our day on Beaver Island, we decided to take one of the guided tours offered by the ferry company. We chose the 3 hour tour that took us around the whole island. I was glad we opted for the longer tour because it gave us a better feel for the island if we ever came back for a longer stay. Of course, we also learned a lot of the island’s history.

In the mid-1800’s, Mormon leader James Jesse Strang formed a colony on Beaver Island. Over 8 years, Mormon population on the island grew and Strang crowned himself king and was the only American king in history. In 1856 Strang was assassinated on the island and the remaining Mormons were forced to leave. “The Mormons cleared and cultivated the ground, built roads and houses, and changed the Island from a wilderness to a moderate outpost of civilization. But fate conspired to keep them from reaping the benefits of their toil” (beaverisland.net). Our tour guide explained to us that if you see apple trees and lilac trees while driving around the island, you know that spot was settled by the Mormons.

Historic Beaver Harbor Lighthouse

After the Mormon exile, people began emigrating to the island from Ireland to fish. By the 1880s, Beaver Island became the largest supplier of fresh water fish in the world. Unfortunately, due to overfishing, by the 1890s, the harvest was cut in half and Beaver Island lost their monopoly. In the 1900s, logging was the largest industry on the island and a railroad was built to transport the lumber to the bay where ships could pick it up and transport it to Chicago and Detroit.

If you have extra time in the Charlevoix area, I recommend taking the ferry over to Beaver Island. Its a very low key, relaxed community with a focus on nature. I think I would like to return some time when we have more time to enjoy it!

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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100 Years of Michigan State Parks

Sauguatuck Dunes State Park

Last month, the Michigan State Park System celebrated its 100th anniversary. With 103 parks, there are a lot of places in the state to enjoy natural Michigan. From Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Western Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in the Detroit River, Michigan State Parks encompass miles of freshwater shoreline, hills, waterfalls, and forests. There is a state park for whatever type of recreation you are looking for.

Tawas State Park

Mackinac Island was actually the first Michigan State Park as a gift from the Federal Government after a brief stint as the second National Park in the country and became the nation’s first state park (wiki). In 1917, the state of Michigan purchased land to make Interlochen State Park the second state park. By 1919, the Michigan State Park commission was created to “oversee, acquire, and maintain” state parks for the enjoyment of the people. Up until that point, many of the beauties of the state were privately owned and there weren’t places for the average person to go visit in their new automobile (govdelivery.com).

Seven Lakes State Park

I love how forward thinking the state of Michigan was back in the early 20th century. What else was happening around the country at that time? In 1919, the Grand Canyon became a National Park. Isle Royal, the only National Park in the state, didn’t become a National Park until 1940. Other state park systems didn’t exist until the 1930s.

McLain State Park

Back in 2012, I set a goal to visit every Michigan State Park. By my estimation, I have visited 49 so far and I have many more parks to explore! Through my explorations, I have seen some pretty amazing places! Of course, I have shared on here my absolute love of Ludington State Park. I probably visit Ludington more often then some parks which are closer to home. I’ve seen the unique beauty of the big spring at Palms Book State Park. I have witnessed the history of Fort Wilkins and Fort Michilimackinac. Just this past weekend, I camped along the shores of Lake Michigan at Fisherman’s Island State Park. I greatly appreciate the experiences I have had at these wonderful parks and I look forward to many more!

Silver Lake State Park

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Wordless Wednesday: Beach Sunset

Spring Fever

Little Sable in SpringWith all my talk of getting out there no matter the weather, this spring has really left me deflated. I took more photos in the coldest, bleakest part of the winter, than I did in March and April. This spring has been tough with its little tastes of sunshine and warmth followed by cold, snow, and ice. After mother nature’s latest episode of freezing rain and snow, I think its safe to say winter is finally behind us.

This past weekend, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and I needed to get a healing dose of Lake Michigan air. We headed to Silver Lake State park and Little Sable Point Lighthouse. Before we left, I checked the weather and it said the wind was 0 mph. I did not believe it and I made to sure to grab a coat just in case. When we got there, the water was as still as I had ever seen it and the wind off the lake was barely a breath. There were still scattered patches of snow so I wasn’t brave enough to take my shoes off, but I saw a few people walking barefoot in the sand.

One of the most fascinating things about visiting the Great Lakes this time of year is the scattered debris and sand ledges show how high the water and ice got the past winter before all the summer sunbathers scatter it. On this visit we found this large piece of driftwood that made for an interesting photo subject but also a little bench to sit on and take in the glory of my favorite Great Lake. This time of year it is great to enjoy the beauty of Michigan without the crowds.

This impromptu journey did teach me a few little tips. Before you grab the camera bag, make sure to check your camera battery and it would not hurt to bring the battery charger with you. We got out there, I turned on the camera and discovered my battery was about to die. I was able to take two shots before it died completely and that was definitely a little lesson in and of itself, but it was in no way ideal. I am glad that one of the two was worth sharing.

Thank you for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Ice House

Ice House

Winter on Lake Michigan

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Winter on the shores of Lake Michigan can be harsh, cold, and windy. Lake effect snow is a big deal on the west side of the state with snowstorms seeming to blow in our of nowhere. As much as I love Lake Michigan, I tend to avoid it in winter. I’m not a winter fan to start with but the cold Lake Michigan breezes tend to be too much for me. Yet, this winter I was able to experience Lake Michigan twice in its harshest season (the other being to St. Joseph in January). Each time I was surprised with how many people flock to the beach in the winter. No, they are not sunbathing and swimming like they do in the summer. They were trekking out to lighthouses, sledding down sand dunes, and playing in the snow and ice.

As harsh and cold as it can be, Lake Michigan’s beauty is not seasonal. Ice on the shore and snow on the dunes really added something to the landscape that you don’t get in the summer. While there were more people out than I expected there to be, it was definitely not a summertime crowd, so it is much easier to capture a landscape without people in it (not that that’s a bad thing…I really should do a post on that one of these days). Although, winter skies in Michigan frequently leave something to be desired, I was very glad that I made it out to Muskegon State Park on a cold and blustery February day. Now, its March and I’m ready for it to warm up and be camping season, OK?

Thanks for stopping by! Are you brave enough to explore Lake Michigan in the winter? Let me know in the comments! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

 

Think Spring

 

Ludington Sunset

Its that time of year where I get sick of the cold and the white landscape and start dreaming about the warm weather to come. With the warm weather this week, it does seem like spring may have come a little early this year. Only time will tell if the warm weather will stay or if we will be blanketed in snow again here shortly.

Either way, I am ready for the cold to be behind us and it to be summertime. I am looking forward to watching the sun set over Lake Michigan and sleeping in a tent. I am beginning to think about our camping trips this summer. As much as I love Ludington State Park, I am thinking about checking out new campgrounds this summer like Fisherman’s Island and Petoskey. Maybe we will go back to Straits State Park and camp at the base of the Mackinac Bridge. Oh, I can’t wait for another glorious Michigan summer.

What are you looking forward to when the weather warms up? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Dune Photographer

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