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Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness

General Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws
Photograph taken in  the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness


The United States Congress designated the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness (map) in 1987 and it now has a total of 3,271 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Michigan and is managed by the Forest Service.


Over the past 13,000 years, as the level of Lake Michigan rose and fell, winds swept the exposed sand from the lakebed into a series of rolling dunes, some reaching 140 feet in height. Most of the present dunes date back between 3,500 and 4,000 years. A wide beach lies between the waves of water and the waves of sand. Unlike the vegetation at most active sand dunes, here you'll find woody patches of juniper, stunted jack pine, some small stands of northern hardwoods, and dune marshes with wetland species such as hemlock and larch. Many of the dunes are lightly covered in dune grass. Set along approximately 7,300 feet of undeveloped shoreline, Nordhouse Dunes is the only designated Wilderness on Michigan's Lower Peninsula. A limited trail system of about 14.5 miles is minimally marked and sometimes hard to follow. The Nordhouse Dunes Trail (1.4 miles) offers the best peek at the dunes. The trails can be accessed from the nearby Lake Michigan Recreation Area on the northern boundary.

Planning to Visit the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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