Empire to the Dune Climb
Trailhead parking for this section is at the corner of Voice Road and Bar Lake Road near the end of Lacore Street just north of Empire, MI. The parking lot is gravel with a short gravel spur to the asphalt trail. There is a vault toilet at the trailhead.
The trail winds through a valley from Bar Lake Road parallel to Voice Road. It is not visible from Voice Road most of the way to M-22. This section of about 1.5 miles is mostly up hill (about 3-5% grade) until you get beyond the intersection of M-22 and M-109. There are some short steep grades (10-12%) along M-109 from the M-22 intersection. The trail runs parallel with and in view of M-109 for about 2 miles from this intersection to Pierce Stocking Drive. BE CAREFUL WHEN CROSSING THE ENTRANCE TO THE SCENIC DRIVE! This road gets a lot of traffic in the summer and drivers are not used to having a trail here! There is a short spur trail to the parking lot at Pierce Stocking Drive. This is a good trailhead parking lot with a vault toilet and plenty of parking.
From Pierce Stocking Drive going north, the trail continues to run parallel with and in view of M-109. About 1/4 mile north of the Scenic Drive, you will find “The Bear”. It is a rather long, steep (12% grade) going down through a beautiful valley to Greenan Road. USE YOUR BRAKES! There is a STOP sign at the bottom of the hill at Greenan Road. This hill will be a challenge for you on your way back up! There are several benches along the way in case you need to stop for a rest.
The trail turns right onto Greenan Road. This is a seasonal county road that was paved as part of the SBHT construction, so it is about twice as wide as the rest of the trail. This is a road! So you may encounter motor vehicles on this section of trail.
The trail runs parallel with and in view of M-109 to the Dune Climb. There are a few short, steep (10% grade) hills in this area. Once you get through the hills, the trail crosses several driveways. Be cautious when approaching the driveways and yield to vehicles! The trail crosses the entrance to the Dune Climb. BE CAREFUL WHEN CROSSING THE ENTRANCE TO THE DUNE CLIMB! Drivers are not used to having a trail and bike traffic here.
You have arrived at the main trailhead for the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Stop near the Dune Climb and walk through the Donor Recognition Plaza, rest on one of the benches, and maybe take a hike up the Dunes for a view of Glen Lake!
Winter Trail Information – Empire to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
This winter we will groom the trail starting at Bar Lake Road going north to the Pierce Stocking Drive parking lot. Steep hills in this section will not have classic tracks, but will have a corduroy finish.
Dune Climb to Glen Haven
The north end of the Dune Climb parking lot is the main trailhead for the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. You will find modern restrooms and water fountains on the south side of the parking lot. During the summer, the Dune Center is also open and you will be able to buy supplies. The Donor Recognition Plaza is located at the north end of the parking lot, so browse the plaques to see if you can find your name! Donations of $1,000 or more are recognized on the plaza.
The trail from here to Glen Haven is generally flat with only one very gentle incline. Most of this section of trail is through forest until the last quarter mile when the trail opens up and you can see some open dunes just before entering the historic village of Glen Haven.
BE CAREFUL CROSSING MAIN STREET IN GLEN HAVEN. This is a very busy crossing in the summer. Traffic is generally going slow, but be careful! Modern restrooms are located at the trail crossing. The village has several attractions that you will want to ride your bike to:
- Turn south (right) and ride a short distance to the Blacksmith Shop. There you will be able to watch a blacksmith working at his forge, making a variety of metal products.
- Right near the Main Street crossing is the DH Day General Store. Candy, water, books, etc. are available in the store during the summer. The store also has an interesting exhibit about the history of Glen Haven and the life of DH Day.
- Turn to the left and you will see the Sleeping Bear Inn. It is not open, but one day it may be restored to its original purpose as an inn and restaurant.
- Further north on Main Street is the big red Cannery. This was originally a canning company for canning fruit and shipping it off to market in Chicago. It is now a Great Lakes Boat museum.
- In the Cannery parking lot is an observation deck that allows you to get a view of the Manitou Islands and Sleeping Bear Bay. You can also look into the Aloha Great Lakes Fishing Tug.
- Ride west from the Cannery about 1/2 mile to the old Coast Guard Station and US Life-Saving Station. It is now a Maritime Museum.
- The Lake Michigan beaches at the Maritime Museum and the Cannery are popular all summer long, so take off your shoes and walk the beach!
Winter Trail Information – Dune Climb to Glen Haven
This section of trail is relatively flat and will be groomed for cross-country skiing. It will have about 12 feet of corduroy and two sets of classic tracks on the outside. This year we will also groom a loop just south of the Dune Climb at the old entrance to the Scenic Drive. Depending on the weather, there is sometimes sand blown onto the snow near the Dune Climb and in open areas, the wind can blow the snow right off the trail, so there are a few bare spots. This is very weather dependent, so check the Ski Report on our web site.
Glen Haven to Glen Arbor
Continuing on from Glen Haven, you will enter the DH Day Campground in about 1/3 mile. The trail goes through the campground on the campground road, so be aware that you will be sharing the trail with motor vehicles. There is a vault toilet in the campground and a trail that leads to Lake Michigan right next to the historic DH Day Log Cabin.
Leaving the campground, you will intersect with DH Day Main, which is a seasonal county road. Like Greenan Road, it was paved when the trail was built, so it is twice as wide as the rest of the trail. But beware that you may encounter a motor vehicle on this road. There are a few homes down this road… Traffic goes slow here, but be careful!
After riding about 1/3 mile, the trail crosses M-109. This is a busy road and traffic moves fast. BE CAREFUL WHEN CROSSING M-109. The rest of the trail to Forest Haven Road in Glen Arbor (about 1 mile) is flat and easy. This section of trail suffered significant damage from a major wind storm on August 2, 2015. You will find many of the trees that once provided a high canopy were blown down. On your right, you will see the face of Alligator Hill looming over you, and the trail runs along some low ridges between wetlands. These ridges are the remnants of ancient Lake Michigan shorelines when the lake had a much higher water level a few thousand years ago.
When you reach Forest Haven Road in Glen Arbor, the trail ends and the route through Glen Arbor is on village streets.
Winter Trail Information – Glen Haven to Glen Arbor
Cross-country skiing on this part of the trail is the best! It is a flat section of trail and fairly protected from the wind. The light fluffy snow coating the hemlocks and cedars along the base of Alligator Hill make it a winter wonderland! This section is also groomed with 12 feet of corduroy and two sets of classic tracks.
Going through Glen Arbor
The trail route from here to the other side of Glen Arbor is on streets. Be careful and obey traffic signs. The trail is marked with these signs along the route.
Turn left and ride until you reach M-109 or Western Avenue near the Christian Science Church. Turn right and ride 3 blocks to Oak St. This is a very congested area during the summer with a lot of car, bike, and pedestrian traffic. Ride in the designated Bike Lanes.
Turn right on Oak St. and ride 1 block to State St. Turn right at State and ride 1 block to Lake St. Turn left on Lake St and ride about 1/4 mile to Northwood Drive. Turn left on Northwood Drive and ride about a mile to the STOP sign at Fisher Rd. Turn left on Fisher Rd and ride about 1 mile to the trailhead at Crystal River put-in parking lot.
Glen Arbor to Port Oneida Road
This section of trail is paved from the parking lot at the Crystal River put-in on Crystal View Road to where the trail enters the Port Oneida Rural Historic District. At that point, the trail surface is compacted crushed stone for about 3 miles. The parking lot at Crystal View Road has a vault toilet.
Soon after leaving the parking lot, you will cross Crystal View Road. BE CAREFUL! Traffic on this road moves fast and visibility is somewhat limited when going north because of the curve in the road. Once across the road, the trail is flat and you will cross about 500 feet of boardwalk over a wetland area. The boardwalk is wide and provides plenty of room to stop and look over the wetland.
The trail crosses M-22 near the Homestead Resort. As soon as you cross the road, you will face a challenging uphill ride with a grade of 8%. You will soon cross Thoreson Road the first time. This is a seasonal road and doesn’t get much traffic, but there may be some car traffic in the summer. The trail goes through deciduous forest and then pine forest for a very scenic ride for about 2 miles until it opens onto the edge of a farm field. You are now about to enter the Port Oneida Rural Historic District. At this point, the trail surface will change from asphalt to compacted stone so that the trail will fit in with the character of the historic farming district. There is potential for erosion on sections of the trail with steep slopes, so be careful and look for loose stone or wash-outs.
The trail follows the edge of the woods with historic farm fields on your right. As you come down a hill, there is a spur trail to your left that leads to the Bay View Trailhead, which has a parking lot but no vault toilet or water.
Continuing on, you will cross Thoreson Road the second time. The trail then approaches the Charles Olsen Farm, home of Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear. They have information and exhibits that tell about the Port Oneida Rural Historic District and the families that lived there. Stop in and visit. They often have volunteers at the house who can show you around.
After the Olsen Farm, you will see the Port Oneida School on your left. There is a spur trail to your left which will take you to the parking lot, vault toilet, and the Kelderhouse farm just past the STOP sign at Port Oneida Road. The Kelderhouse cemetery is just on the right. Stop and explore. Cross the road to the Kelderhouse farm. A parking lot for the trailhead and Port Oneida Visitor Center will be built here in the summer of 2015.
The Port Oneida Community Alliance (POCA) is planting crops at the Kelderhouse Farm. They sometimes have volunteers working at the farm, so feel free to stop and visit with them about the farm, the family history, and the crops they are growing.
Winter Trail Information – Glen Haven to Glen Arbor
This section of trail is groomed with our roller/compactor. We set classic tracks and groom corduroy surface for skate skiing. The trail is relatively flat but has a few minor hills between the Homestead Resort and the Bay View Trailhead on Thoreson Road.
Port Oneida Road to Bohemian Road (CR-669)
The trail surface is still compacted crushed stone for about one mile and is generally flat. It runs parallel to M-22. The trail passes the historic North Unity School (log cabin) and crosses the edge of Narada Lake on a boardwalk. Stop and watch the ducks and loons on the lake on your way past. The trail surface becomes asphalt again after passing Narada Lake.
The trail ends at Bohemian Road (CR-669). You can extend your ride by turning left and riding on the road to Lake Michigan. It is about 1 mile, relatively flat, and not much traffic. At Lake Michigan, you will find a parking lot, vault toilet, and drinking water.
Winter Trail Information – Glen Haven to Glen Arbor
This section of trail is often quite close to M-22. Because snowplows throw salt and sand on the trail, we have decided not to groom this section for skiing. You may use the trail for backcountry skiing or snowshoeing.