Empire Bluff Trail, Sleeping Bear Dunes, National Lakeshore, Michigan
This is an acrylic fridge magnet souvenir of the Empire Bluff Trail, Sleeping Bear Dunes, National Lakeshore, Michigan, United States. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore covers a 60km stretch of Lake Michigan's eastern coastline. This northern Michigan park was established primarily because of its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena. Empire Bluff Trail is a 2.4 km walk to the scenic overlook that has many interesting places to stop along the way. The Old Farm has tractors from the 1940's. In the Beech-Maple forest the plant life that grows tolerates shade cast by the canopy. It is a climax-forest, which means it will persist indefinitely unless destroyed by natural disaster or by humans. At the Old Orchard there is evidence of where loggers over logged areas. Finally the Empire Bluff Overlook, 122 meters above Lake Michigan, has an extensive view of the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Manitou Islands.
Legend Of The Sleeping Bear
The park is named after a Chippewa legend of the sleeping bear. According to the legend, an enormous forest fire on the western shore of Lake Michigan drove a mother bear and her two cubs into the lake for shelter, determined to reach the opposite shore. After many miles of swimming, the two cubs lagged behind. When the mother bear reached the shore, she waited on the top of a high bluff. The exhausted cubs drowned in the lake, but the mother bear stayed and waited in hopes that her cubs would finally appear. Impressed by the mother bear's determination and faith, the Great Spirit created two islands (North and South Manitou Island) to commemorate the cubs, and the winds buried the sleeping bear under the sands of the dunes where she waits to this day. The "bear" was a small tree-covered knoll at the top edge of the bluff that, from the water, had the appearance of a sleeping bear. Wind and erosion have caused the "bear" to be greatly reduced in size over the years.