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Author Topic: Another vacation question...this time Michigan  (Read 837 times)
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helot2000
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« on: June 13, 2008, 01:05:16 PM »

So with my summertime work trip getting canceled, I have to scramble to come up with family vacation plan #2.  We live in Minnesota and as nice as the North Shore is, my family is up to try something different this year.  My wife is looking at Traverse City, MI and the Sleeping Bear Dunes park.  It looks nice enough on line but the National Park map I've found doesn't give scale.  Day hikes are what we're looking for.  I just can't tell if there are 4-5 days of day hikes in the area.  Anybody stay or visit up there? 

In the back of my mind, I am thinking of going back to visit Estes Park, CO.  That fits the bill for hiking and nature perfectly but for the fact that I'd have to make a stop to visit family in Denver and the long drive from here.  And the budget...it will be more $ than MI. 
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LordMortis
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2008, 02:20:44 PM »

Quote from: helot2000 on June 13, 2008, 01:05:16 PM

So with my summertime work trip getting canceled, I have to scramble to come up with family vacation plan #2.  We live in Minnesota and as nice as the North Shore is, my family is up to try something different this year.  My wife is looking at Traverse City, MI and the Sleeping Bear Dunes park.  It looks nice enough on line but the National Park map I've found doesn't give scale.  Day hikes are what we're looking for.  I just can't tell if there are 4-5 days of day hikes in the area.  Anybody stay or visit up there? 

In the back of my mind, I am thinking of going back to visit Estes Park, CO.  That fits the bill for hiking and nature perfectly but for the fact that I'd have to make a stop to visit family in Denver and the long drive from here.  And the budget...it will be more $ than MI. 

I love Estes Park and there is so much to do and see within a three hour drive of there, so that would be my first choice.

I'm not sure what you are looking for out of a day hike, I can imagine Traverse City or Sleeping Bear will give you the kind of day hiking experience I imagine you are looking for.  They're great spots for people who are urbanized to get away from being urbanized without getting all dbt.  When I picture day hikes I picture foot hills, either with trees (Appeletia) or without (the Rockies) but that's me.
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CeeKay
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2008, 02:23:15 PM »

Make sure to visit Ann Arbor decked out in Ohio State gear  icon_twisted
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Remus West2
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2008, 02:33:25 PM »

Quote from: CeeKay on June 13, 2008, 02:23:15 PM

Make sure to visit Ann Arbor decked out in Ohio State gear  icon_twisted
With or without (preferably without) the OSU gear, if you stop in our area (SE Michigan) I am sure we could get at least 1 or 2 of us to show you a nice restaurant or something similar.
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cheeba
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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2008, 02:35:04 PM »

I live and grew up about 45 mi north of Traverse City, but unfortunately I can't really help you with hiking information. Since I grew up on 40 acres and pretty close to the woods, hiking for me was always just called a walk, heh. Here is a site I've heard about for a bunch of different trails, though.

I will say that the last time I visited Sleeping Bear Dunes was with my school around 5th-6th grade. We all climbed the dunes and ran down as fast as we could, and I ripped the crap out of my shorts.

Traverse City itself is a decent town. The real draw here is the lakes. I can vouch for this area being among the most beautiful in the world.

Edit - Oh, and the legend of Sleeping Bear - it comes from an Ojibway (Chippewa) Indian tribe legend that a mother bear and her two cubs had to cross Lake Michigan because of a great fire in Wisconsin. The mother got to the area where the dunes are but the cubs didn't make it. The mother waited and waited for the cubs, until the sands covered her, creating the dunes. The cubs became north and south Manitou islands.

I always thought that was a cool legend. I know it today because there's a really good local ice cream named after it and they print the legend on the side of the carton smile.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2008, 02:42:30 PM by cheeba » Logged
helot2000
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2008, 02:57:52 PM »

Thanks Cheeba for the inside stuff.  Your link and recommendation were exactly what I was looking for. 

LordMortis, you are correct.  Estes is amazing but unfortunately, the drive from MN to Estes sucks.  It's long and boring and given that driving makes me sleepy, it's a two day drive for me when someone more "hardcore" could knock it off in one.  But the payoff is huge because hiking in the Rockies can't be beat. 

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Eduardo X
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2008, 04:09:05 PM »

A few times a summer, we pack up and drive to Union Pier, in SE Michigan, to go hang out on the beach. It is the same lake as the one we have in Chicago, of course, but the beach is so much nicer. I don't think you can go wrong there.

I think Estes Park is beautiful, but the crowds always bugged me. You can find places as beautiful as Estes Park and much less crowded all over Colorado.
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2008, 06:17:01 PM »

My wife and I love Sleeping Bear Dunes and the town of Empire.  We usually end up going up there every fall.  We used to camp in the D.H. Day Campground but now we usually get a room in Traverse City and do day hikes in The Dunes area.  There is indeed 4-5 days worth of hiking to do in the area.  There are 13 trail heads listed on the park map.  You can get maps for all trails at the Hart Visitor Center in Empire.

Pyramid Point is well worth checking out.  It's not a long hike from the parking lot to the Point but it's very steep.  The payoff of the view of North and South Manitou islands is well worth it.  People sometimes hang glide off it and we've seen kids snowboarding down the dune.

Also, you could take a ferry to South Manitou Island for some good day hikes, that's a great time.

Both Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula are great to just drive around on.  Full of little towns and fishing villages and vineyards for wine tasting. Check out Blackstar Farms if you like that sort of thing.  Great little township parks for picnics on The Lake, it's a really nice area.
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The Meal
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2008, 07:08:21 PM »

Quote from: helot2000 on June 13, 2008, 01:05:16 PM

My wife is looking at Traverse City, MI and the Sleeping Bear Dunes park.  It looks nice enough on line but the National Park map I've found doesn't give scale.  Day hikes are what we're looking for.  I just can't tell if there are 4-5 days of day hikes in the area.  Anybody stay or visit up there?

In the back of my mind, I am thinking of going back to visit Estes Park, CO.  That fits the bill for hiking and nature perfectly but for the fact that I'd have to make a stop to visit family in Denver and the long drive from here.  And the budget...it will be more $ than MI.
Hee-hee.  I spent my first sixteen years living within 90 minutes of Sleeping Bear Dunes, and the most recent eight years living within an hour of Estes Park. smile  (Two of the remaining eleven years were spent in Minnesota.)  If you're looking for hiking, I wouldn't put NW Michigan as my primary vacation destination.  That said, it's pretty tough to beat the SBD when it comes to a fun place to camp.  As cheeba wisely points out, if you're looking for outdoorsy activities in that area, try finding stuff to do on the lakes.  I'm taking my family to Charlevoix in early July, and we'll take a day out of our schedule to spend on Macinac Island.  It's got an 8-mile circumference, and I'm sure we'll rent bikes for the circumnavigation, and take a few pit stops for hiking into the middle of the island.  It's touristy though (lesserly-so than Estes Park, but not by a whole lot).

Shopping, fishing, golf, the beach -- these are typical summer activites in NW Michigan.

Sounds like you've got the Rockies all figured out.  We're driving back to Michigan, but want to break things up a bit (visiting family in Omaha and Chicago, seeing Devil's Tower, Mt. Rushmore, the U.P.) for our own sanity.  Also spending a few days in Edenville (the middle of the palm of Michigan), where we'll get in some power boating and kayaking and BB gunnery and fried-food eating.
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cheeba
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2008, 08:27:08 PM »

Quote from: The Meal on June 13, 2008, 07:08:21 PM

I'm taking my family to Charlevoix in early July, and we'll take a day out of our schedule to spend on Macinac Island.
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rshetts2
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2008, 01:11:41 PM »

Ive vacationed in the Grand Traverse area many times during the summer.  The Cherry festival is great for the nite life.  I dont know much about hiking but I can attest that theres a great pub crawl in Travese City.  The Grand Traverse bay area is absolutely beautiful in the summer and its an awesome area for boating.
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