SAWYER — The beach stretches for three miles along Lake Michigan, while massive dunes pile up hundreds of feet above the shoreline like a mountain range made of sand.
Six miles of trails wind through nearly 2,000 acres of diverse landscapes, from the sun-scorched dunes to cool, dense forests and quiet wetlands.
It’s difficult to capture the full scale of Warren Dunes State Park in one sentence or one photograph. Everything — including the crowds — is big at this destination north of Sawyer.
Many people regarded the sand dunes as worthless when Three Oaks industrialist Edward K. Warren bought the property in the early 1900s with conservation as his goal.
The conventional wisdom at the time was the land couldn’t be farmed and, therefore, had no value.
Oh, how opinions have changed.
About 1.7 million people visited Warren Dunes last year, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Among Michigan’s state parks, only Holland State Park drew more attendance than Warren Dunes did in 2011.
Many of the visitors come here to enjoy the sun, the lake and the beach, and to climb the dunes.
Anyone willing to sweat their way to the top of one of these sandy peaks will be rewarded with an awe-inspiring view.
It’s said that, on a clear day, a person can see the Chicago skyline from atop Tower Hill — the park’s tallest point at 240 feet above Lake Michigan. That wasn’t the case Sunday, but the view of the shimmering freshwater sea, which eventually blended at the horizon with the hazy blue sky, was no less