Did you ever read the Pippi Longstocking books as a child? The ones about the little girl with the braided pigtails, superhuman strength, and spotted horse? I did. And this blog has nothing to do with Pippi Longstocking, except… Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has a scenic drive called the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, which I will always remember as the Pippi Longstocking Scenic Drive! There is absolutely no relation, except the slightly similar name that makes my imagination run wild.
The drive is named for Pierce Stocking, a local lumberman who began building the road in the 1960s. He thought the area was so beautiful that he wanted to share it with people. He charged $2 per car to drive the scenic road. Stocking also built the covered bridge on the drive. The scenic drive became part of the national park, and is now maintained by the park service along with the rest of Sleeping Bear Dunes.
After we made it back from The Dune Climb – and poured the sand out of our shoes – again… we decided to do the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The light was really fading at that point, so I didn’t know how much we would see on the 7.4 mile drive. But as it turns out, there is a beautiful, historic covered bridge right at the beginning, and we happened to find a deer grazing right near the bridge. The photo isn’t great, because it was dark, but I enjoy the memory.
The drive has 12 scenic viewpoints – one that looks over the dune that we had just been hiking on! It was interesting to see it from above – and to watch the last straggling hikers make their way home. Other viewpoints give a view of Glen Lake, and the forest that makes up much of the scenic drive.
The next viewpoint we stopped at provided the best view ever. A wooden walkway leads you out onto a platform overlooking a bluff with a 450 foot drop down to Lake Michigan. Looking out over the water, we watched the most amazing hot pink and orange sunset. The colors were spectacular, reflecting on a lake that sparkled like glittering diamonds. Wow – I was completely at peace, except for the ever dropping wind chill.
After the sun dropped below the horizon and my camera’s batteries died (probably because I took so many pictures of that amazing sunset!), I was walking back down the short path to the car. Jon had gone ahead because he was cold. There wasn’t much light left, so I stopped when I saw an animal that looked like a raccoon emerge from the woods and start walking to the parking lot.
After cautiously following it for a minute, I realized it was a porcupine! It was the first time I’ve ever seen a porcupine in the wild! I didn’t get any photos, but it was really neat to see. When we got to the parking lot, he crawled under somebody’s car, hung out for a minute, then scooted out the other side back into the woods.
And Jon and I headed towards our final destination for the night – Traverse City!
Have you driven the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive?