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Pierce Stocking Bridge

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
Empire, MI 49630

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Spans: A deep ravine
Built: 1967, 1986

The Pierce Stocking Covered Bridge graces the 7.4 mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The original structure was built by Pierce Stocking in the 1960s. The wood was gradually consumed by porcupines and the bridge had to be reconstructed in 1986.

Stocking spent his youth working as a lumberman in Northwest Michigan's forests. He loved the woods and spent most of his spare time there, developing a self-taught knowledge of nature. He walked the bluffs above Lake Michigan, awed by the view of the dunes, the big lake and the Manitou Islands. As a way to share the beauty with others, he conceived the idea of a road to the top of the dunes.

As a lumberman, he had built roads in difficult terrain before, and began planning in the early 1960s. Then known as the Sleeping Bear Dunes Park, the road first opened to the public in 1967. Stocking continued to operate the scenic drive until his death in 1976. The road became part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 1977. Several years later, urged by public opinion, the drive was officially named the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

Stocking's road to the top of the dunes was rated one of the Top 10 Great Fall Color Trips by the "Detroit Free Press" in 1977. Visitors can drive -- observing the 20 mph speed limit, walk or ride their bikes along the drive and through the bridge. A nearby scenic pull off allows motorists to stop and enjoy the view. As part of the National Park System, a $7 vehicle permit is required and is good for seven days. Bicyclists pay $7 for up to four bikes.

Directions: From Empire, follow M-22 north. Turn left on M-109. Follow the signs. 231-326-5134 National Lakeshore Visitor Center