Reading Dave Dempsey’s recent post about the nearby wonder and beauty reminded me to take advantage of the wonderful hiking trails so close to where I live, to explore the corners of the scenic Leelanau Peninsula. There are quite a few hidden gems that don’t get the credit they deserve. So this past weekend, I went out to uncover a gem I hadn’t seen yet.
Right off of M-22 is one such unassuming trailhead, the Houdek Dunes Natural Area. It is set up as a series of loops. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure, where you can pick which way to go and how long your hike will be.
Whichever route you choose, you will be surrounded by snow, ice, and water. On occasion, you can see Lake Michigan peeking through the trees, and at the far end of the trail network is a quiet spot with a bench overlooking the serene Houdek Creek.
Thanks to The Leelanau Conservancy, this trail network is a well-maintained favorite in the area. You can visit their website to learn more about the history of the Houdek Dunes Natural Area and what to expect on your hike.
Stop by if you want a peaceful walk or a winter workout, but be sure to bring your snowshoes this time of year. Otherwise, you might sink knee-deep into the vast drifts of winter wonderland.
My favorite way to challenge myself is by traveling. It is the simplest way of removing every comfortable aspect of my life, and replacing it with new perspectives, people, and customs. The further away from home I travel, the more challenges I encounter, and the more my perspective changes. While international travel can be expensive and difficult to coordinate, I offer one shining exception to this rule. This week’s Friday Favorite is the beautiful city of Toronto.
One of many great views of Lake Ontario
The largest city in Canada, Toronto has so much to offer, and I find myself returning when I am able to revisit my favorites and explore new sites each time. It is recognized as a global destination and one of the most multicultural cities in the world, which is apparent when wandering around its busy streets. This means overhearing many languages, conversing with world travelers, and eating very good food.
I appreciate the pride Toronto takes in its public water. The city stretches 29 miles along Lake Ontario, which supplies the city drinking water supply.
Nayt Boyt, Office Manager
Water is a wonderful centerpiece of many of Toronto’s plentiful public spaces. The Rouge National Urban Park sits just to the east of Toronto, the largest urban park in North America. Nathan Phillips Square is right in the center, an iconic public square and reflective pool in Toronto where people come to skate in the winter. There are also many public places to enjoy along the shore of Lake Ontario, including Harbourfront Centre, which hosts many public events year-round.
Toronto is one of the best places I have ever been, and I strongly recommend a visit to Great Lakes lovers everywhere.
This week’s Friday Favorite was written by Julius Moss, one of our summer interns who has since returned to Vermont Law School.
To me, the Mackinac Bridge is not just a bridge. It is also a portal. Every time I head north from my home in Traverse City, MI and cross the bridge, it feels like I have been transported to a simpler place. A place of boundless natural beauty, full of sandy beaches, clear blue water, dense pine forests, and mesmerizing sandstone cliffs. A welcoming place that is connected to the wild around it, embracing all four seasons mother nature has to offer. A place that is simply called the Yoop!
On one of my recent adventures to the Upper Peninsula, I headed north for a weekend bike trip in Marquette, MI. I was unable to leave Traverse City until that Friday evening, and did not want to drive late into the night. Although I had previously spent evenings on Mackinac Island, I found this to be the perfect opportunity to camp somewhere near the Straits for the first time.
After a short drive up US-31 and across the Mighty Mack, I set up camp in the Straits State Park on the North shore of the Straits. I was fortunate to claim a campsite just off the water, and was able to spend the evening walking the shores of the Straits. While listening to the water lap against the beach, I could only stop and wonder why we have a rusty 65-year old oil pipeline perched along the shifting bottom of the Straits, and why in the world would we continue to risk our precious natural resources by delaying the decommissioning of Line 5 for the construction of a tunnel.
The Straits of Mackinac are the heartbeat of the Great Lakes. In fact, more water flows through the Straits than over Niagara Falls on a daily basis. Furthermore, the Straits are home to the majority of the Lake Michigan commercial whitefish industry, allowing the Michigan Tribes to pass down their cultural connection to the water. The Straits are also home to destinations such as Mackinac Island, a place allows visitors from across the globe to venture back to a time before the automobile.
It is crucial we as Michiganders do all we can do to protect the Straits. I encourage you all to contact your local representatives, the Mackinac Bridge Authority, and the governor and Attorney General’s office to express your concerns about Line 5 and the possibility of a utility tunnel. I also encourage you all to become informed voters this November and understand where candidates stand on Line 5 and protecting the Great Lakes. The Straits must continue to be a place that transports water, people, and culture. To do that – we must stop the transportation of oil in the straits and decommission Line 5 once and for all.