Houdek Dunes is a 337 acre property and it is the largest and most diverse natural area managed by the Leelanau Conservancy. The Houdek Dunes sand was derived from glacial sediments that were exposed about 4,000 years ago, when the ancient Lake Nippissing receded. From the trail, you’ll see examples of active blowout dunes, woodland pockets sheltering giant white birch trees, and mature forested backdunes. Along the dunes’ southeast boundary flows the fragile Houdek Creek, a spring-fed trout stream which is the primary tributary flowing into North Lake Leelanau.
Houdek Dunes’ signature is its stands of bright, healthy white birches – many over a century old. Their advanced age is highly unusual for this transition species. Woodland pockets created by dips in the dunes shelter the birches from the wind and allow them to thrive. Note that the stands of quaking aspen at the top of the stairs near the information kiosk are clones. One of several aspen groupings throughout the property, they share a root system and identical genetic makeup. Along the dunes’ southeast boundary flows Houdek Creek, the largest tributary flowing into North Lake Leelanau. This creek is not accessible from the trail at this time, because disturbances along its fragile, sandy shore would compromise its health.
Directions: Beginning in Leland, drive north along M-22 approximately 5 miles to County Road 626. Proceed another ¾ mile north along M-22. A sign on the west (left) side of the road marks the entrance to the parking area. 3/4 and 1- 1/2 mile loops can be covered in 2 hours.