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A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes


A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

My favorite thing about having friends in town is the opportunity to go explore places you go often but not nearly enough. This weekend we knew we had our friend Michael Newsted coming for a few nights, but when my cousin, Andrew, his girlfriend, Tobin, and our friend, Will, all came down from Harbor Springs and we realized they had not seen Leelanau County, we made the decision that we all had to go! Thus, we enjoyed the night before drinking the new White Whale Skinny Dipper and Mob Man (more on those this week), and then we woke the next morning to hike the dunes.

A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

The easiest hike in to the dunes is Pyramid Point. There is no need for a National Parks pass, and in less than a quarter mile uphill walk, you can see one of the best views along the northern west coast. It was a hot and steamy day and unbeknownst to us, it was also the day the black flies decided that they were hungry. Arriving on the shore, we stopped to take it all in. The water was amazing as we stood nearly 400 feet above the shore on the dunes. Standing still too long was not a good idea with the bugs, so we kept moving toward the bowl that overlooks the rest of the northwest coast of the Leelanau Peninsula.

A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

We ran through the woods that connect the dunes and arrived on the other side to a beautiful view of dunes and the vastness of Lake Michigan. Together we walked the ridge to the overlook. We joked about feeling as if we were in a Hunger Games video between the persistent and nasty black flies biting us and the heat. There was some sort of element of survival to the whole thing that was both fun and miserable all at the same time.

A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

image via: Michael Newsted

A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

image via: Michael Newsted

Even in the heat we snapped photos and enjoyed the cool breeze coming across from the chilly lake. It felt like a little slice of heaven. Sure the journey was slightly miserable in the moment, but the view was worth it.

A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

The journey back was a little harder (okay a lot harder) than getting there. There were a few points where I think we all regretted the number of cocktails we had the night before or the fact that we ever thought that this would be fun. When we finally got to the top and we had escaped the ungodly amount of flies that had left their mark on our legs and arms, we got back to the car and decided it was time for a dip in the chilly water to cool off and wash the sand and sweat from our bodies.

A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

Nothing says Northern Michigan summer like an ice cold dig into Lake Michigan on a hot day while you have been hiking in the woods or in the dunes. I took us all to my favorite secret swimming spot and we all plunged head first in to the water to escape the feeling that only a really hard hike leaves you with.

It had been a long time since I had been in water that it literally HURT because of the icy chill that still lingered. As quickly as we jumped in we were out, but we felt perfectly refreshed. Honestly it was the exact thing we needed in that moment.

A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

image via: Michael Newsted

We headed north to Leland from Pyramid Point and grabbed Cheese Shanty sandwiches and a view of the harbor at Fishtown. The weather was amazing and the bugs were no where to be found in town so it felt pretty amazing just to sit there and enjoy our lunch.

A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

image via: Michael Newsted

A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

On the way back home we decided to have a small taste of the local grapes and stopped at L.Mawby for a tasting. We enjoyed a glass of wine on the patio to cheers to an insanely hard and beautiful day that left us truly feeling as if we had officially christened summer.

A Weekend Adventure: Sleeping Bear Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

It was one amazing day that I wouldn’t trade anything for.

Thanks to Michael Newsted for sharing the above tagged images with us for this post…he is amazing!



Leave a comment

  1. Gorgeous photos! I was there in the winter a couple of years ago and it was a whole different world.

  2. Sounds like a great day spent with good friends. I love the shots captured along the hike. The water and sky look so blue.

  3. Sleeping Bear Dunes is so beautiful! My sons saw me reading this post and said they want to go back to Michigan 🙂

  4. It looks like such a great day you had! Whenever I see photos of northern michigan, it seriously makes me want to hop on a plane from the UK to visit. The view from those dunes is amazing – though it’s a shame about the flies!
    Have a lovely week!
    April Everyday

  5. They go away in a week or so

  6. You should!!! You Should!!!

  7. Nan

    Wow, what beautiful images! I have never been to norther Michigan but we have friends who spend time in Leland and they always talk about how beautiful it is..and now I can see why!
    Oh dont you love that first swim of the summer! My family spends the summers up on the coast of Maine and when I went for a dip in the ocean over the weekend…boy was it cold, but so worth it! Nothing beats how refreshing it is.
    Looks like a wonderful weekend!
    xo Nan ~ Simply Elegant Blog

  8. One of my favorite places in the world!! Gorgeous photos!! 🙂

  9. What a stunning location. Looks like the perfect summer.

  10. Well that looks like it doesn’t suck! 🙂 Glad you all had such a great weekend.

  11. beautiful pics, even though I know that bugs can be a problem. the mosquitoes here can make life miserable too!

  12. Your photos, per usual, are unreal!

  13. Oh it looks like the perfect adventure spot! How fun!

  14. breath taking images!!! wow.. thanks for sharing this!! 🙂

    Animated Confessions

  15. What a beautiful area! I get what you mean about the heat, though…. I get really sick in the heat, especially lately. Really beautiful though!

  16. Such a wonderful description of my favorite place to vacation! I was there a couple of weeks ago and we lucked out… black flies. However, getting there from Texas was like The Hunger Games … through airports trying to make the next flight, only to find out the flight was delayed. All part of the adventure!

  17. Meg

    Beautiful post! So lovely! I am putting this on my wanderlust list of places I would like to visit 🙂

  18. Beautiful photography! The story made me feel as if I were on the hike with you! Thanks for the reminders of where I grew up.

  19. I love fish town!

  20. Thanks for the blog! Beautiful pictures and great ideas of things to do! It is so weird I am trying to plan on things to do while up there on vacation and this is the 3rd time I have come across your blogs! It must be a sign of some kind! I love Michigan! I grew up there part of my early years. We owned a cottage at Crystal Downs and I am so happy to be going back there as an adult and sharing it with my grown children! I moved around so much in my younger years, so it means a lot to me to feel like I can share apart of my life with my girls! Michigan was a big part of my life and always will be!

  21. I had the same thought while making the climb from Lake Michigan back up to Pyramid Point last Sunday evening. That my boyfriend and I were contestants in the Hunger Games. Beautiful view, but I definitely won’t be returning during black fly season.

  22. What a magical place! The photos are beautiful!

  23. Great post! The photos are wonderful. This makes me homesick. Beautiful.

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