The highlight of the trip for me was, and always is, a hike up to Empire Bluffs. This is without a doubt one of the most scenic spots I have even been in.
The hike is about 3/4 of a mile, not long but mostly uphill as you climb the backside of the bluff. The woods' spring wildflowers were mostly done, but the sweet white violet was in its glory. Carpets of it blanketed the forest floor.
It was hot, and by the time we reached the boardwalk that leads to the bluff we felt like we'd walked all day. But the reward is worth it.
|View from Empire Bluffs. South Manitou Island is visible on the horizon on the right.|
At the end of the trail, which runs along the top of the bluff for perhaps a few hundred feet there's a seating area. No one was there, and we took off our shoes and socks and sat for a while, enjoying the sun, and wind, and the sand between our toes.
|The Sleeping Bear.|
This big old tree, having long since tumbled down the dune, marked the end of the trail. I liked the impermenance of the graffiti on it, constantly worn away by the wind-driven sand.
America got it right when it named this place the most beautiful in the country.