Monday, August 13, 2007

Silver Lake Dunes Area

Silver Lake State Park is about eight miles south of Pentwater right on Lake Michigan. We saw the dunes from the lake as we were approaching Pentwater. During our stay in Pentwater, we decided to take a bicycle ride down to the park.

The bike ride down there was very nice. You take County Road B-15 (no, it’s not B-17, but it’s pleasing nonetheless, mister). The road winds around Pentwater Lake and then heads south down along the Lake Michigan shore to Silver Lake. While riding down there, you never really see the lake but it’s a very nice ride along forested areas that make up the crests of sand dunes. The speed limit is slow enough that cars don’t zip by too fast, and there are just enough hills to make it interesting but not tiring.

Upon reaching Silver Lake State Park, you enter a very different world. It’s almost like something out of a Mad Maxx movie. There are dune buggies and off road vehicles EVERYWHERE. The closer you get to the park, the weirder it all gets. Apparently, riding up the sand dunes is a big thing there. It’s quite interesting to see, just for the sake of seeing it. Here’s a picture of the staging area for the vehicles, prior to entering the park.

Once you reach Silver Lake, you see just how scenic the dunes really are. On the day we were there, the lake was a deep blue colo, and the dunes really stood out against the color of the water.

Looking closely, you can see some of the dune buggies on the dune. The orange flags you see at the bottom of the picture are attached to vehicles. The flags are generally on poles that rise six to ten feet above the vehicles.

Unfortunately, our return ride was not quite as pleasant as we would have liked. We decided to take a more direct route back to Pentwater. According to the map (and the GPS), we could head east along Taylor Street, then take 60th Avenue north and end up at the east end of Pentwater Lake. That was a shorter route, avoiding a lot of the winding back and forth on County Road B-15.

All was well until, after a mile or so, 60th Avenue turned into this . . .

Yes, it eventually became a narrow loose sand road the cut through the woods. Think of a logging road made out of very loose sand. Our mountain bikes could only make headway for about half the time – at best. The rest of the time we pushed the bikes. This went on for several miles. We made the mistake of continuing on instead of turning back because, well, this can’t go on forever. Well, it did.

When we finally hit asphalt, it was like a person crawling through the desert who reaches an oasis. Not sure if it’s a hallucination or if it’s real. That little mistake turned a pleasant two hour ride into a four hour ordeal.

So . . . if you are in the Pentwater area, by all means take a quick trip down to Silver Lake. But if you are on bicycles, stay on County Road B-15 for the trip back and forth from Pentwater! Avoid those little side roads – such as 60th Avenue – at all cost.

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