Heritage Trail partners are inviting the public to help celebrate the opening of the newest segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail (SBHT) during a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 2, at the Dune Climb of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore). The Dune Climb to Empire segment more than doubles the miles of trail completed, bringing the total to 9.5 miles. In addition, the newly installed donor recognition plaza will also be unveiled, which recognizes donors of $1,000 or more.
Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails, Inc. is the fundraising partner for the SBHT, and coordinates the “Pathways to Sleeping Bear” fundraising campaign. Campaign Chair Carol Quarderer notes, “The newest, well-constructed segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail has exceeded our expectations. The trail winds through scenic forests, over beautiful rolling terrain, with short, but moderately challenging hills. Our two communities, Empire and Glen Arbor, are now linked by this beautiful trail. We celebrate this connection that so many people are now using and enjoying.”
National Lakeshore Deputy Superintendent Tom Ulrich has heard a lot of positive feedback from trail users, “People are telling us the Dune Climb to Empire segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is even more beautiful than the first stretch! It certainly adds a new dimension to the trail, as the topography allows users to challenge some hills, even with the excellent design. I think that will be one of the best things about the SBHT; when it is done, it will give people whatever kind of ride or hike they are in the mood for, through fields or forest, and it will have plenty of places to hop on and access it!”
The who patrol the trail and greet visitors. National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Shultz, MDOT Director Kirk Steudle, and Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Chairman Kerry Kelly will all be there to celebrate the opening of the new segment. Everyone is invited to join the community at the ribbon cutting at 10:00 a.m. on July 2, and take a ride or walk along the trail to check it out for yourself.
Those traveling from Traverse City to the ribbon cutting are encouraged to take the Bike and Ride BATA Bus to Glen Arbor and then to bike to the event. BATA has announced their Bike and Ride service route will run along M-109 between Glen Arbor and Empire, with flag stops at the Dune Climb and Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive trailheads. BATA Operations Director Kelly Yaroch said, “We are proud to further enhance our partnership with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, and TART Trails by adjusting our route direction in this fashion. We see great benefit to the constituent groups of all the mentioned parties, including the village of Empire, by offering public transportation that allows for penetration directly into the National Lakeshore.” The schedule of bus service is online at www.bata.net.
When fully completed, the 27-mile trail will run from the southern edge of Leelanau County through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Empire, and Glen Arbor, to Good Harbor Bay.