Halfway between the Equator and the North Pole, you’ll find a breath taking view left behind by glaciers 15,000 years ago, in Leland Michigan. Four hundred and fifty feet above the gorgeous Lake Michigan, is a 7.4 mile long trail called Pierce Stocking Drive. It is part of the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore, which is 70,000 acres of government protected wildlife preservation.
The hike up to the lookout is not at all rigorous and very well worth it. This activity is perfect for all ages, and if you cannot hike up the trail there is also an option to drive part way up. Once you reach the destination, you are able to look out over a steep, cliff-like drop off over Lake Michigan. You can see for miles and miles over the lake and North and South Manitou Islands, until your eyes meet the horizon. It is such a worthwhile experience and sight that you can feel like the King of the World or like a European Explorer, first setting eyes on a spectacular new land. Discover for yourself what it’s like to feel the wind in your face as you gaze upon thousands of years old beauty.
Pierce Stocking Drive is a mix of the old and new, as the land and wildlife is very much the same, but from the top you can see freighters and modern day sailboats from time to time. At the end of July professional sailboats race past the lake shore in the Chicago-Mackinaw Race, the longest annual fresh water race. It is the perfect time to slip off the flip-flops, have a picnic, and toss a Frisbee- just be careful not to launch it over the edge!
If these aren’t enough reasons to visit Pierce Stocking drive, take ABC News Good Morning Americas’ word for it. In August 2011, Good Morning America had a contest for viewers to vote on the most beautiful place in the USA, and Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore was selected. The Lakeshores brilliant turquoise, Caribbean quality waters and rolling sand dunes were shown to the public, revealing the hidden gem’s natural beauty. Pierce Stocking Drive is a key part of the National Lakeshore, as it is one of the most spectacular and magnificent lookouts on the entire shore.
So next vacation take a group of friends or your family to the top of this National Lakeshore, and dig your feet into the warm sand as you take in natural beauty and wildlife. If you’re into photography at all, make sure you don’t forget your camera; Pierce Stocking Drive will not disappoint!
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