Green Point Dunes Nature Preserve
Sand dunes, a shipwreck and, if the evening is clear, a sunset over Lake Michigan; Green Point Nature Preserve is one of Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s most impressive efforts. Acquired in 2005, the 242-acre preserve is south of Elberta in Benzie County and contains nearly 3 miles of trails that wind through stands of brilliant white birch, beech-maple forest that is carpeted in the spring with wildflowers and open meadows. But it is the more than 2,100 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline and the high bluff bordering much of it that makes Green Point Dunes so spectacular.
The vistas are the result of a glacial moraine extending east to west and separating the Herring Lakes watershed to the south from the Betsie River watershed to the north. From Lake Michigan the steep ridge rises 274 feet, more than enough elevation for dramatic views of distant shorelines in each direction.
Almost half of the preserve has also been labeled by the state as “critical dune,” a designation to protect fragile dune areas. At Green Point, the dune habitat includes wide sandy beaches, open foredunes that are home to the state and federally threatened Pitcher’s Thistle and forested dunes.
The trail system at Green Point Dunes forms a 2-mile loop to the beach and includes all three viewing decks and access to the Lake Michigan where the curious can explore the City of Boston, a 19th century shipwreck just offshore. Departing from a second trailhead along Green Point Road is a two-track that crosses the preserve to private property south of it. The two-track, occasionally referred to as the Inland Trail, is closed to vehicles, but hikers can use it to reduce this trek to 1.5 miles while still reaching the observation decks and beach.
|Difficulty - Easy|