The Dragon's Back
Saugatuck Dunes State Park
Placed originally by 2 Bentriders from Indiana on March 6, 2004. They now live and letterbox in Oregon, and this box was adopted in April 2011 by Chilly.
Status: April 21, 2011 - Active! Outfitted with a new box, new stamp and new log book.
Begin your adventure on the Beach Trail from the parking lot. Follow the posts marked with a yellow painted top and a green arrowhead. Enjoy this wonderful sandy trail through the forest. When you come to a split in the trail, stay on the path as marked by the posts. When you come to the high point on the trail, stay to the right and you will begin a long gradual decent (also great on cross county skis in the winter!) You will come to a Y in the trail. Take the trail to the left. Just before you get to the end of the trail, you will see a glimpse Lake Michigan, and an old abandoned concrete block building on your left. Take the trail to the right that goes northwest. Soon you will emerge from the woods and see the lake in front of you (resist going to the lake for right now). From the top of this dune, look northeast for a trail that heads back into the woods. There will be two forks, one marked by a post top painted all yellow, and one post top marked with both yellow and white. Take this latter trail. You will now head back into a younger, less mature forest. Soon this connector trail will dead end into another trail. (Note: at this point, if you turn left you can follow the remaining clues to the “Birthday Letterbox”)
Turn right. Go down the hill and back into the woods. Now the path will level off, only to go back uphill on a climb that gets progressively steeper. The last section of this climb will turn into a wide, sandy, open stretch. At the top of this steep climb, the trail flattens out almost immediately. In a few steps, there will be a less traveled trail to the right, but you should stay left and continue down the main trail. This special wooded trail is one of the most dramatic in the park! I like to call it The Dragon’s Back, where you travel along the spine of an ancient buried dragon, and both sides drop dramatically down. Okay, so continue on this trail…it will rise very gently, turn gently left and then become perfectly level. Just before the trail turns downhill, notice the shafts of two old spears, (launched by the bows of long ago dragon slayers) sticking into the side of the dragon, just a few paces to the right of the spine and standing very close to each other. From this point, continue down the trail another 65 steps, where you will come upon an intersection with another trail. At this intersection point, continue right and downhill 26 steps and look for a tree on the right of the trail whose two tree trunks rise from the ground like a “V”. Standing at the base of this tree, take a compass reading of 50 degrees. Look for a very slight, little used path that follows the side of a ridge across the trail. Follow this path, and in 45 steps you’ll see a tree on the right that is bravely hanging onto the side of the ridge, even though washed away sand has left many roots exposed and gnarled. Continue on the path, and in 40 steps find a large deciduous tree about six feet to the right of the path whose crown is healthy, but has several lower branches that have died off. From this point on the trail, take a compass reading of 270 degrees, and walk 38 steps into the woods. In the bottom of this shallow bowl, look for the tip of the dragon’s trail, curving out of the sandy floor and rising up about ten feet. At the base of this dragon’s tail, you will find the “Dragon’s Back” Letterbox!
(Note 1: At this point in the park, you are just a short distance from the parking lot. If you do not wish to go back to the lake, you can get to the parking lot by continuing down the main trail)
(Note 2: If you are here in the winter, here’s a short side trip that will give you a nice view of the lake. After you safely hide the letterbox again, go out of the woods (38 steps) and turn left when you get to the path. Continue to follow the path up the hill along this new ridge, and in a short distance you’ll be rewarded with a view of the lake at the top of a sandy knoll.)