Squeezed between M-22 and Lake Michigan, the Elberta Dunes South Natural Area is not big nor is its trail system extensive, a mere half mile or so, but the area is spectacular. Its western boundary is 1,425 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline that leads to another 1.2 miles of undeveloped beach to the north. Between the wide beach and the state highway are fields, forested ridgelines, and an 845-foot dune with slopes that exceed 60 percent.
The Elberta Dunes South Natural Area is both beautiful and rare. Almost three-quarters of the preserve has been classified as a Critical Dune Area by the State of Michigan. Within its boundaries is the federally-listed threatened Pitcher’s Thistle and the Lake Huron Locust, a state-threatened insect, while endangered Piping Plovers use the shoreline for nesting.