Camping Trip #2


JBtheExplorer

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Just over a month ago, I got back from my second of two camping trips in 2018. I always try to plan one trip for autumn, which is the best time of year for camping. This trip was to the Point Beach State Forest. I've been camping here many times since the age of about three or four. My most recent trip here was in 2015, and I've missed it. It was a cold and breezy few days, but at least it wasn't rainy. Temps reached low 40's for the high, and below freezing at night.

I had a nice campsite with an open view of the forest. In Wisconsin's state parks, you never know what you're going to get. Many campgrounds cram them in, so you get little privacy and no nature, but most of the sites here are decent, and it's even better when you go during the week when it's not busy.


Here's the view of the forest behind the campsite.




The forest sits right on the shore of Lake Michigan.

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Dune habitat along the lake stretches for more than six miles. Deer are a pretty common sight in the dunes.
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The forest has miles of hiking trails, including a section of the 1,000 mile Ice Age Trail, and a six mile recreation trail that meets up with another trail outside of the forest. The most notable adventure of the trip is when I biked five miles on the recreation trail to where it meets the Ice Age Trail. I then hiked a few miles. The purpose of this adventure was to find where a small creek empties into Lake Michigan.

This section of the Ice Age trail followed the creek for awhile and had quite a few open views of it. What I thought was a small creek became larger than I expected.
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Eventually, I reached a cut-off trail that led to the beach. Once on the beach, I began hiking north for about a third of a mile before reaching the river. I've never seen a river flow naturally into the lake before. All the rivers where I live are surrounded by city, so there's nothing natural about them by the time they reach the lake.

For a short time, the creek parallels the lake as it flows through the beach before turning into the lake. Here, you can see the lake on the left and the creek on the right.

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Forest on one side, and open beach on the other.
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This was a fantastically natural area. No trails, no garbage, no signs of humans. In fact, it's literally a "natural area". The river and everything south of the river is designated as State Natural Area #87. The SNA program protects high quality natural areas.
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Here's a short video as well as additional photos of that adventure.


As much as I wanted to stay there forever, it was time to hike back, so I made my way south along the beach back to the trail. I had to climb up the dunes to get back into the forest. This photo was taken as I was climbing up the dunes to get back into the forest. I'm not sure the camera really captured the true height of the dunes here. It was impressive in person.

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This is a wet forest with many vernal and fish-less ponds, so it's perfect for amphibians. Searching the forest for salamanders is something I do every time I camp here. Blue-spotted, Spotted, and Red-backed are the species of salamanders I find. I'm not sure if there are other species in the area.
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It's also fun finding all sorts of different fungi of various colors.
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This is a popular area for shipping. You can often see freighters and barges passing by.
Here's the 1004' Edwin H. Gott.
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and the much smaller 403' Pere Marquette 41 barge being pushed by a tug named Undaunted.
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One of my favorite things to do while camping here is waking up early and heading down to the lake to catch the sunrise. Another ship was sailing by that morning.

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Something special about this place is that it has a lighthouse. As the name suggests, Point Beach State Forest is on a point. There are ten to twelve shipwrecks in the area. To prevent that from continuing, a lighthouse was built in the 1800's. From what I can remember, the original lighthouse was built in the wrong location and it wasn't long before they torn it down and built another. The second lighthouse was built in the same spot as it sits today, except that the tower itself was built with defective material and had to be torn down and replaced. The original house was kept intact, and you can see the round portion of the house which was the base of the tower. The current tower was originally used in Chicago. They moved it to the current location in 1984 and increased its height. This is one of the tallest lighthouses in the state. It's between 111' and 113' feet tall, according to different sources. I always photograph it quite a bit during various times of day and night while I'm there. The lighthouse is operated by the Coast Guard and the land surrounding it is off limits, but do they allow you to get pretty close. This was taken just as the sun was peaking up over the lake.
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This was taken the evening before.
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About six miles south, there's another lighthouse. This one's no longer used. It was moved away from the lake and now sits on the property of a small fishing museum along a river. In comparison, this one is only 36' tall.


A little further south lies another one which is still active and in a very busy harbor.
46 feet tall.




When I got home from my trip, I had lighthouse fever, so I went to visit my local lighthouse while the memory of the others were still fresh. This is another tall one, at 108'.


The lighthouse sits on what is effectively a park, so you're allowed to go right up to the base of it.
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j.w

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Wow what a beautiful place to camp and great photos! Lots to see there and I like how you add some history and the name of the ships etc. I could wander around there forever! Did you even see 1 person out there?

The Christmas shots look like someone took a lot of time to decorate a forest. Is that a campground or what?
 
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Absolutely lovely @JBtheExplorer ! Thank you for sharing this! Some of it reminded me of home, just across the lake from here. If you haven't been already, hop on the ferry over to Ludington. You would enjoy Ludington State Park, and Nordhouse Dunes (off season is best).
 

JBtheExplorer

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Absolutely lovely @JBtheExplorer ! Thank you for sharing this! Some of it reminded me of home, just across the lake from here. If you haven't been already, hop on the ferry over to Ludington. You would enjoy Ludington State Park, and Nordhouse Dunes (off season is best).
I've seen Ludington State Park before, but only on Google Maps :). Looks like they've got some massive sand dunes. Almost desert-esque. When I was a kid, my parents and I would go watch the S.S. Badger leave. It can also be seen from the forest. Now, I always go camping after the season ends, so I haven't seen it in years.
 
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I've seen Ludington State Park before, but only on Google Maps :). Looks like they've got some massive sand dunes. Almost desert-esque. When I was a kid, my parents and I would go watch the S.S. Badger leave. It can also be seen from the forest. Now, I always go camping after the season ends, so I haven't seen it in years.
Yep. We used to ride our motorcycles over to Ludington, pick up a pizza, and sit on the beach to watch the S.S. Badger coming or going - countless times!

The dunes at Ludington aren't too big. Nordhouse Dunes, to the north, are larger (and a real work out to hike over!), but the mac-daddy would be Sleeping Bear Dunes. You would really enjoy the coast over there...and plenty of lighthouses to keep your camera clicking!
 

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