Fall Events in Leelanau
Leelanau County is full of surprises; even after a lifetime here, you'll keep finding new trails to hike, new views to enjoy, and new wines to share with new friends. And if you've only been here in summer, you may be surprised to learn that October is one of the most beautiful times on the Sleeping Bear Dunes– warm days give way to brisk nights, as the changing leaves light up the sky in a variety of beautiful hues. If you need an extra reason to come discover the dunes in fall, here are a few of the best.
Glen Arbor Pumpkin Fest
Saturday, October 21
The Manitou Passage Golf Club is. End-of-summer course “aerification” wrapped up this week, and the best golf course in Leelanau County is open with some great autumn deals. Keep reading if you ever wondered how the aerifying process works and why the best courses seem to do it so often, and check out the great weekday and weekend prices available right now.
Nothing is more frustrating than showing up to play a round only to find out its aerification time at your favorite golf course. Or even worse: finding out the aerification process just wrapped up leaving behind hundreds of little holes all over the putting greens!
Think of it as a short-term disruption with long-term benefits for Leelanau County’s favorite golf course. The regularly scheduled aerifying process came off without a hitch, and guests of Manitou Passage Golf Club are already reporting the course is playing better than ever.
Golf course regularly aerify their greens for one very important reason. But we’ll let the experts at Golf Course Superintendents Association of America explain. They’re the men and women who know what’s best for keeping golf course in good shape and playable.
"Preventative maintenance is an integral part of successful golf course management," the GCSAA states. "Golfers view aerification as an inconvenience that takes the greens out of play for a day, pulling cores from the greens and leaving holes that can affect putting for …
Leelanau County—and the Sleeping Bear Dunes, in particular—is a fabulous place to catch a glimpse of all kinds of migrating raptors, songbirds and waterfowl that begin heading south (and north) through the region in autumn. Check out this rundown of the top spots local Leelanau bird watchers love, and check a bunch of new species off your life list this fall.
[source: sleepingbearbirding trail.org]
September’s Autumn Equinox is just couple weeks behind us, and that means the annual fall bird migration is in full swing. The islands and coastal woodlands along the Sleeping Bear Dunes have long been regarded as one of the best migration routes in North America, attracting hundreds of bird-watching enthusiasts hoping to see some of the over 250 migrating species common to the region.
The peak season for migrating warblers, vireos and thrushes is happening right now along with plenty of broad-winged hawks of the red-tail and rough-legged variety. Ruby-throated humming birds are already on the move, too, along with birds such as blue jays and gulls, which are not often thought of as migrators.
Toward the end of September and into October, birds like snow buntings and American tree sparrows begin moving into the Upper Peninsula while dark-eyed juncos begin moving into the southern Lower Peninsula. Species of migrating hawks (red-shouldered, goshawks, harriers and Cooper’s and kestrels)—with the occasional eagle and/or osprey to spice things up—are common. And don’t forget the annual waterfowl migration, which begins hitting its peak in mid October with many species of diving and puddle ducks passing through on their way to the East Texas coast and other parts south.
Launched in April 2013, the Sleeping Bear Birding Trail—a 123-mile “trail” of bird-watching hotspots from Manistee to Traverse City—is anchored by the Lakeshore’s 35 beaches and 71,000 acres of public land. There are 27 designated birding spots along the SBBT. Below are just a few of the most popular birding trial (taken from the SBBT website) within the boundaries of the Lakeshore, along with a few notable Leelanau nature preserves outside the park where you can possibly catch of glimpse of something rare.
Otter Creek/Platte Plains Trail
Otter Creek/Platte Plains Trail is a large area that provides birders with the opportunity to explore a wide variety of birding habitats and 14.7 miles of trail. According to the SBBT website, this site is widely considered to hold the greatest variety of songbirds during migration periods. Michigan bird watchers may want to begin by traveling west on Esch Road from the intersection of Esch Road and M-22 for about 1.3 miles to the parking area at the end of the road (Esch Road is 3.8 miles south on M-22 from the intersection of M22 and M72 in Empire). If birders walk a short distance back up the road, there is a two-track that crosses Otter Creek and a trailhead with Platte Plains Hiking Trail maps. Mixed woodlands, dunes, shoreline, shrub-scrub wetlands and other habitats are found in this area. Walking further up the two-track will provide good views of Otter Creek and other good birding spots. The trail map shows the extensive trail system in this area.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a 7.4-mile self-guided auto tour provides that also provides many lookouts for birders looking for the best chances of seeing a multitude of migrating gulls and waterfowl.
There are twelve marked points of interest along the road with ample parking. Each of these points is unique and, according to the SBBT, provide good birding opportunities and access to Shauger Hill and Cottonwood Trails. One of the most spectacular views in the Lakeshore is at the #9 Lake Michigan Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Take the short walk from the parking lot at #9. The observation deck at the Lake Michigan Overlook is about 450 feet above the lake level, and the angle to the lake is very steep. The dunes are perched on top of a moraine bluff made of a mixture of rocks and sand deposited by the glacier when it melted.
Port Oneida/Kelderhouse Loop
A great place for Michigan bird watchers to spot migrating hawks, the Port Oneida Rural Historic District is comprised of farmhouses, fields and woodlands where raptors like red-tail hawks, harriers and kestrels can often be seen perched in roadside trees and power lines.
Improved and unimproved roads form a scenic loop around the district. The main roads—Port Oneida, Baker and Kelderhouse Road(s)—traverse open meadows, climbs a small ridge into deep forest and pine plantation, and parallels lowland swamp. The entire loop is 3.5 miles, driving the loop is an easy mix of paved road and gravel. Walking or biking the road provides a unique birding experience given the diversity of habitat.
Click here for the full list of Sleeping Bear Birding Trail sites.
Leelanau Conservancy Natural Areas
The peak of the apple-picking season is drawing near, which means roadside farm stands will soon be spilling over with great deals on bushels and pecks of Honey Crisp, Gala and Granny Smith. These modern varieties are great. But if you’re looking for unique taste with some real history behind it, read on.
We caught with John and Phyllis Kilcherman—owners Leelanau County’s Kilcherman’s Christmas Cove Farm—to find out what varieties of apples were cultivated by early settlers in the country now known as the Sleeping Bear Dunes. The Kilcherman’s specialize in growing and selling heirloom or “antique apples”—over 200 varieties, including the five that still can be found growing around the farms and turn-of-the-century homesteads at the Lakeshore’s Port Oneida Rural Historic District. Put these Lakeshore originals on your shopping list when you visit Kilcherman’s this fall, and then try them in the apple recipe at the end, courtesy of the The Homestead’s Chef John Piombo.
About a decade ago, the National Park Service wanted to know the pedigree of the ancient apple trees they found growing around the old barns and farmhouses of Port Oneida. So they took some fruit and went to heirloom apple identification expert, John Kilcherman, who was not surprised to find the Sweet Bough among them.
“The Sweet Bough used to be a popular ‘early’ apple,” he says, meaning it was one of the first to ripen in the fall. “It’s one of my favorite & …
Just in time for the autumn leaf season, construction on 13 miles of Michigan’s most famous scenic road just wrapped up last month. Newly resurfaced and widened (to better accommodate bicyclists), M-22 is the gateway to everything worth seeing and doing in the Sleeping Bear Dunes and all of Leelanau County this fall. Here’s why:
[source: Mlive.com/Michigan Department of Transportation]
As mLive reported last month (click here), one of the biggest and best improvements MDOT construction crews made to M-22 over the summer was making the famed corridor more accommodating to bicyclists. The road named “America’s Best Autumn Scenic Drive” by the USA Today was already known throughout the region as one of the most beautiful cycling routes in the Midwest. Now the famed corridor has even wider—biker-friendly—shoulders to carry the title.
Looking for a good route to hit before lunch? Try heading south out The Homestead and head south toward Empire—it’s only about 7 miles. Glen Arbor to Leland—another good lunchtime place for eats—is roughly 18 miles. And lets not forget the road running from Leland to Northport (another 11 miles). If you’re leaving The Homestead on an all day, scenic excursion that will get you back to the resort in time for dinner and sunset cocktails on the deck of Café Manitou, this Glen Arbor to Northport route is roughly 60 miles round trip for those in pretty good shape.
Drink In The Views
[source: goodharbor. …