Hunts' Guide to The Upper Peninsula

Grand Sable Bank & Dunes

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These vast banks and dunes along Lake Superior are a highlight of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Seen from the trail's vantage point midway up their height, the dunes look dramatic and overwhelming. They are entirely bare and blindingly blank on a sunny day, slanting into Lake Superior at the steep, 35 ° angle of repose common to all piles of dry sand. When the sun is low, the effect is more beautiful and mysterious, as the dunes shade into purples and pinks.
    The banks stretch west for five miles, down to the Log Slide. Don't be tempted to walk down to the lake here unless you're up to a difficult half-hour walking back up the sand, slipping and sliding with every step.

    "Grand Sable" (pronounced "SAAH-bl") means "big sand." These banks are a huge formation, up to 275 feet high, created during the last ice age when sand and gravel filled in a deep rift in the glacier. Atop the gravelly banks, sand dunes rise another 80 feet. These are "perched dunes" because they are perched on top of another landform. They were probably formed when wind and waves piled up sand at the edge of Lake Nipissing, forerunner of Superior.
Mouth of Sable River
Mouth of Sable River

    The half-mile trail passes through an old orchard, over a creek, and through a jack pine forest, then enters a bleak dunescape where only a few hardy plant pioneers like marram grass can take hold. Excellent interpretive displays explain the principles of plant succession in the beach's harsh, dry, nutrient-deficient environment, which alternates suddenly from hot to cold after sunset. You can also see a small ghost forest of trees overwhelmed by sand.
The parking lot for the trails to Sable Falls and Grand Sable Dunes is off H-58 about a mile west of Grand Marais. Free. Handicap accessible: no.
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Return to Grand Marais

Grand Marais Agate Beach. Prized for their interesting patterns of concentric bands of translucent red and clear or white, agates attract rockhounds to Lake Superior's northern shore. This long stretch of beach is a convenient place and thus more picked over, but a storm may bring up fresh rocks ... more

Grand Sable Bank & Dunes. Vast dunes seen from the trail here create a dramatic view, especially when the sun is low ... more

Harbor entrance, range lights, pier & beach. Fish from the long stone pier jutting far out into Lake Superior, protecting the harbor. Or walk the long beach and enjoy the range light, & 2 museums, one in the old Coast Guard station, draw people to Coast Guard Point ... more

Wreck of Mary Jarecki. See a 130-year-old shipwreck lying on the shore of Lake Supeior ... more

The Marketplace. A showroom for a members of Grand Marais Cottage Industries. You'll find photographs, handknits, lamps, novelties, art glass, carvings ... more

Grand Marais Maritime Museum. In the former Coast Guard station the National Parks Service installed this spare museum with photos and a few artifacts ... more

Old Post Office Museum. The 1882 Grand Marais post office still has the old postal boxes and clerk's window up front and historical photos and items in back ... more

Light Keeper's House Museum. Built by the Coast Guard in 1908, This 1908 Coast Guard keeper's house houses a hands-on local museum strong on stories. ... more

Goewey’s Garage. Lee and Betty Goewey make very popular fish carvings as well as art glass windows ... more

Crystal Pine Cone. Beach stones become landscapes and maritime scenes, or animals and people. The Woropay family’s studio/gallery is in a cabin among pine trees ... more

Pickle Barrel Museum. A summer house in two giant barrels for the creator of the long-lived Teenie Weenie cartoons. Now saved from rot and open to the public with historical displays and period rooms circa 1930. ... more

The Campbell Street Gallery. A spiffy collection of many media in Grand Marais' oldest building ... more

Gitche Gumee Agate & History Museum. Agates, rockhounding, geology, commercial fishing, and the self-sufficient local lifestyle after the lumber company left – Karen Bryzs's heartfelt museum tells these stories ... more

Grand Marais Wi-fi Hotspot. Bayshore Market has wi-fi 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. ... more

Sable Falls. Take a walk through the woods to the top of this delightful waterfall. Go down a stairway to a rocky agate beach and wander east for awhile ... more

Grand Sable Visitor Center. A good place for information on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, regional nature and history books, and a 2-mile trail through a shady beech-maple forest ... more

North Country Trail/Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Hike the trail connecting the lakeshore's prominent sights to experience them more fully than a drive-up-and-go-on view. Plan your hike so a shuttle bus can take you back ... more

Log Slide Overlook. Almost 300 feet above Lake Superior, there are splendid views to the Au Sable Lighthouse and the immense expanses of the Grand Sable Dunes. Exhibits show the scene when loggers rolled logs down for loading on ships ... more

Au Sable Point Lighthouse. A picture-perfect lighthouse on the rocks, a tower to climb on scheduled tours, shipwreck skeletons in the sand ... more

Twelvemile Beach & White Birch Trail. Walk the long beach or head inshore along a 2-mile nature trail through an unusual forest of old white birches ... more

Kingston Plains Burns. The best-known of the U.P.'s eerie stump fields or ghost forests created when forest fires across the cutover were so hot they burned off the soil's humus and the forest couldn't grow back. Pine resin preserved giant stumps. Some still remain ... more

Our new interactive map to U.P. motels that offer exceptionally low rates. See also our useful detailed maps to U.P. TOWNS. These custom-made maps locate landmarks and attractions.
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Michigan's Upper Peninsula - Hunts' Guide to the U.P.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula - Hunts' Guide to the U.P.
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