The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is the biggest recreational project supported by the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes. Prior to the Summer of 2012, there were no trails in the National Lakeshore where bicycles could be ridden. This new trail provides a wonderful new recreational opportunity for families and individuals to experience the Park outside of their cars. We hope people will park their cars and either walk or safely ride bikes to many of the popular destinations in the Park.
When fully complete, the trail will be a 27-mile hard-surface, multi-use trail that starts at the Beach Access at County Road 651 near the northern boundary of the National Lakeshore and runs roughly parallel to the Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route of M-22 and M-109 to the Benzie County line at Manning Road south of Empire. The trail will eventually go through Glen Arbor, Glen Haven, the Dune Climb, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center and Empire.
We are excited to announce that the first 4.25-mile section of the trail from Glen Arbor to the Dune Climb has been completed. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on June 20, 2012, and marked the official opening of the trail. So, the next time you are planning your trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, bring your bike, walking shoes, roller blades, or wheelchair and join us in enjoying this marvelous new addition to our National Lakeshore.
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is a project of the Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route committee of Leelanau County and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Learn more about how you can help with the trail by going to http://sleepingbeartrail.org/. Read the Fall, 2011 Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Newsletter.
The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes has been involved in this project since it’s beginning. We strongly support this trail through donations, grants, and volunteer time. We have agreed to maintain and operate the trail through our volunteer network of Trail Ambassadors. Want to become an Ambassador? Contact Kerry Kelly, Trail Ambassador Manager.
The Campaign Cabinet for the fundraising activities has been very successful in getting grants and donations for design, engineering, and construction of the trail. At this point, over $7 million has been raised through federal grants. These funds require a matching donations for completion, and to date, about $1 million has been donated by private foundations and individual donation.
Construction of the first 4.25-mile trail segment between the Dune Climb and Glen Arbor was completed in June, 2012. Visitors and community members have been using the trail daily since then. Surveys of trail users have shown that the tail is being used primarily by groups of family members and friends. The most frequent comments we receive are that they love the tail – and when will it be made longer! That’s all a matter of funding. Over $200,000 was raised by the SBHT Campaign Cabinet and TART Trails between August and the end of 2012 to pay for design and engineering for the trail south of Pierce Stocking Drive to Empire! We expect that construction on this section of the trail will begin in the Fall of 2013. We still need your help to raise matching funds for the grant to build the trail north of Glen Arbor, so don’t let up now! The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail will have over 13 miles of trail completed in 3 years if we meet these goals.
Trail signs have arrived for the first 4-mile segment of the trail. They are being installed now. The signs and the development of the SBHT Trail Ambassador program were funded by a grant from the National Parks Foundation Active Trails program. This program is funded by a grant from the Coca Cola Foundation.
Who is riding the trail? Trail Use Survey
During August, 2012 we conducted trail use counts and surveys of trail users. The results show that 85% of the users are groups of family and friends. Since June 20, when the trail officially opened about 36,000 people have used the trail. 92% of trail users rode bikes. Use surveys were done at Glen Haven, but we did do a count at the Dune Climb and noticed a lot more people walking on the trail there. The same is true near the DH Day Campground. We will conduct Trail Use Surveys each year to monitor changes in use, and as we get additional segments completed, Use Surveys will be done on these segments as well. Read the Analysis-SBHT Use Survey 20120829.
We need your help to complete the trail.
By donating to the trail, you will be creating a legacy for future generations to enjoy. We hope you will get involved and financially support the trail. Donors of $1,000 or more will be included on on the Donor Recognition Plaza at the Dune Climb, which is being planned now. For more information about the trail and to make a donation, click http://sleepingbeartrail.org.
We need your help to maintain the trail.
The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes have agreed to maintain the trail as it is built. We have developed maintenance procedures in co-operation with TART trails and volunteers are needed now. We have Trail Ambassadors who will regularly use the trail and assist visitors with questions and safety related issues, and a Trail Crew, who does maintenance like downed tree removal, sweeping and ski grooming. Read the SBHT Maintenance Manual to learn specifics about these roles. If you are interested in volunteering for the SBHT Trail Team, click here to send us an e-mail.
It costs money to maintain the trail to keep it safe and fun for everyone. You can help us by making a donation to our Trail Maintenance Fund. Just click here.
Here are a few pictures from the trail! Click on the thumbnail pictures to enlarge them. More pictures are available at our Flickr site.