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.
Old Man’s Cave is the most popular area of Hocking Hills State Park. It is the center of the park. The campground is here and of all the trails in the park, Old Man’s Cave had the most to see. Anticipating the crowds, I decided to visit Old Man’s Cave on Monday morning figuring that the weekend visitors would be gone and the crowds would be less. The rain that had been forecasted all weekend, finally came and I think that helped keep the crowds down too. If you were spending the whole week in Hocking Hills, you were not going hiking in the rain.
As you can see in the above photo, there were still people around and I was glad they were there. I used to be afraid of having people in my landscape photos. Now, I feel like the people in that photo add a frame of reference to the landscape. You can’t tell how big the cave is without people in it for perspective. The people also add life to the photos. They show that this is an area that people explore. They give meaning to the bridges and steps in the landscape.
While the rain kept the crowds down, it also really added to the atmosphere. Walking through the rainy, foggy, gorges felt like walking through another planet. It felt unreal. It reminded me of walking through Disney World, but this was not created by people. Really, words cannot describe this area. It has to be seen to be comprehended.
As I mentioned, the Old Man’s Cave Trail had the most to see of all the trails in Hocking Hills. There are five main sections of the Old Man’s Cave area, making up about one mile of trails: Upper Falls, Upper Gorge, Middle Falls, Lower Falls and Lower Gorge. Of course, one of the features of the trail is Old Man’s Cave (top) where a hermit lived in the late 1700s. The Grandma Gatewood Trail also begins here and continues on to Ash Cave and Cedar Falls.
Read more in my Hiking Hocking Hills Series: Camping & Hiking Hocking Hills, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Conkle’s Hollow and Rock House. To plan your trip to Hocking Hills, visit HockingHills.com 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.
Towards the end of my winter break, we took a day trip to Muskegon to check out the winter sports complex. I had heard about the ice skating trail and that sounded like a lot of fun. What I didn’t consider about this plan, is that I hadn’t skated since college. At least the first half of our visit was spent on the ice rink, trying not to fall down. We finally ventured to the 1/4 mile skating trail but decided to play it safe and use these walker-like devices to keep from falling on our faces. It was a little embarrassing being lapped by 6 year olds, but it was still a lot of fun.
Skating isn’t the only winter activity offered at the sports complex. There is a sledding hill and miles of snowshoe and cross country ski trails. If you want to try something exciting, check out the luge. The winter sports complex is home to one of only four luge tracks in the entire country and anyone daring enough to try it will be trained by an experienced luge coach.
I want to mention that any time you are traveling in Michigan in the winter, it is important to pay attention to the weather. On the day we went, it wasn’t forecasted to snow at home, but traveling several hours west, the forecast was different. We arrived at Muskegon State Park to flurries coming off of Lake Michigan and terrible roads that obviously hadn’t been plowed. It was a treacherous journey to say the least.
About the Photo:
The Muskegon Winter Sports Complex is full of exhilarating outdoor activities and as I am not the most athletic person, I decided bringing my camera was a recipe for disaster. So, this photo was taken with the Lightroom App on my iphone.
iPhone 7 raw capture through the Lightroom App
January 7, 2017
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. To plan your visit to the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, visit MSports.org.