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This spring, we ventured North to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This past weekend started National Park Week, where, across the US, anyone can get into our beautiful National Parks for free! We really wanted to take advantage of an excuse to visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes which are only 3 okay, who are we kidding-4 with a camper hours from home.

We stayed at Traverse City State Park as we found it was the closest campground to the dunes that was open this early in the season. Saturday morning we made a big breakfast of pancakes and fruit to get us going on our journey…After we finally pulled ourselves out of bed that is.

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From there, we headed to Empire to start our day at the visitor’s center. The visitor’s center is full of helpful information to guide you on your journey through the park. It boasts lots of fun little souvenirs, toys, gifts, clothing, as well as maps, Michigan books, and more. You can view a short 15 minute film on the park history, and ask questions of rangers, or get your park pass here.

The park has many different options for hiking, biking, and driving. This guide provides great ideas for what to do if you have limited time in the park, or all day.

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We started our day off with a fun bike ride on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. This trail is a paved multi-use trail. It weaves through the National Lakeshore, and connects the towns of Empire and Glen Arbor. We started our ride at the Pierce Stocking Trailhead. From here, we went up the trail to the Dune Climb.

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The ride to the dune climb is 2.6 miles. This is a very do-able ride for the little ones in terms of distance. Be aware though, that there are some good size hills. We had to make sure our kids had their hands on the breaks, and they did just fine going down them.

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Coming back, however, we did have to walk our bikes up the same hills in a couple of spots. **Please be kind and don’t judge for no helmets! It’s early in the season and one was lost, one was broken. We’re replacing them!¬†

Once we arrived at the hill climb, we soaked in some Vitamin D for a few moments, and just enjoyed those rays.

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This didn’t last long though because- well Nolan. He’s 5 and a giant ball of energy. 30 seconds later, we were on our way up the hill.

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