Find Your Park

Sure, you know where Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is – but what about the other 400+ sites managed by the National Park Service?  As part of the build-up to the NPS centennial  celebration in 2016, an awareness and education campaign co-chaired by First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush is kicking off now!

Primary.FindYourParkLogo.URL-200xYou will be hearing a lot about Parks in the coming months. Click on the logo to go to findyourpark.com web site to explore National Parks around the country. Stay tuned here to learn about NPS-themed events in our area that highlight Sleeping Bear Dunes and our local community.

National Park Week – April 18-25

Park Entrance Fee for April 18 & 19 is FREE.

Star Party – April 18 from 9:00 – 11:00 PM at Platte River Point. Join Park Rangers and Grand Traverse Astronomical Society for a guided exploration of our night sky.

Find Your Park Scavenger Hunt – download from the Park web site or pick up at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center.

Junior Ranger Day – April 25 – Two Sessions: 10:00 – 11:30 AM and 1:00 – 2:30 PM at the DH Day Log Cabin. Park in Glen Haven and walk to the cabin on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.

Ski Season is Just Around the Corner

Winter on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is special. Light fluffy snow covering the trees and trail make it ideal for photography, skiing, or snowshoeing through a secluded winter wonderland! Most of the trail is groomed in the winter with a corduroy base for skate skiing, snowshoeing, and classic tracks on the outside for classic cross-country skiing. Click here for up-to-date ski conditions.

Groomer Crew Training in November 2013

Groomer Crew Training in November 2013

The grooming crew is getting ready for the season. The wheels on the Gator will be replaced with snow tracks and the grooming equipment is in place. Groomer Crew training will be held on Tuesday, November 18. If you are interested in being on the Crew this winter, contact us.

Trailhead parking is available on Forest Haven Road in Glen Arbor, Glen Haven, the Dune Climb, Pierce Stocking Drive, and the corner of Voice Rd and Bar Lake Rd on the north end of Empire.

The trail from Glen Arbor to the Dune Climb (4 miles) is relatively flat with beautiful scenery. A loop trail through DH Day Campground and a loop just south of the Dune Climb have been added this year. You will have to remove your skis to cross M-109 and in Glen Haven. 

The section from Empire to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive (3 miles) is also beautiful, but has more challenging slopes. This section will be groomed without classic tracks because of the hills. This will be a good section for skate skiers to get a good workout!

Between the Dune Climb and Pierce Stocking Drive, the trail crosses multiple driveways and climbs significant hills, so this section will not be groomed. There is no good way to ski between the Scenic Drive and the Dune Climb at this time.

Beach Access Stairs at Sunset Shores in Port Oneida

Park management requested the Friends to work with the NPS Roads and Trails crew to build another Beach Access Stairs at the road end of Sunset Shores (just off of Thoreson Rd.). Funding for this project was provided by an anonymous donor who wanted to protect the Lake Michigan bluffs from erosion. Fifteen volunteers worked on the project – including several from Cherry Republic. Over 250 hours of volunteer time + staff from NPS Roads & Trails accomplished the project in less than 2 weeks.

Jim and Andrew building platforms

Jim and Andrew building platforms

The project was completed the afternoon of July 3 – just in time for the 4th of July weekend, and the first people to use the new stairs was a family with a very young baby and another family member with a bad leg. They were thankful to have a safe way to get to the beach! Click here to see more pictures of the project.

Over the past several years, we have teamed up with Cherry Republic and NPS to build stairs at Lane Road and another one at the little gravel road about a mile further north on Port Oneida Rd.

These steep bluffs along Lake Michigan get eroded from all of the foot traffic sliding down the bluff from the road end to the dunes below. In addition, the soil around the roots of the trees is compacted which is hard on the trees. Looking at the area at Sunset Shores, you can see green vegetation in the forest understory – except in the area that people have walked from their cars to the bluff. Having the stairs will reduce human impact on these areas, while making it easier and safer for people to get from their cars to these secluded beaches.

Click below for maps to the three Beach Access Stairs in Port Oneida:

Friends March in Glen Arbor July 4 Parade

Once again the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes marched in the Glen Arbor 4th of July parade. There were more people than ever lining the streets of Glen Arbor. We were happy to be a small part of the FUN and to tell the community and visitors what we do.


Celebrate the New Segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

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.”

DSCN5562-200x150National 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.

IMAG0044-200x354Those 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.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness Dedication

Senator Carl Levin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman Dan Benishek, and many others joined the National Park Service in dedicating the Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness on Friday, May 30, 2014 at the #3 Dune Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  This newest of the nation’s Wilderness areas was the accomplishment of many individuals and organizations working together to preserve this special place for all to enjoy.

Wilderness DedicationThe new wilderness designation sets aside over 32,000 acres of natural habitat to provide a place for people to experience the natural world without the intervention of human development. The new designation also preserves access by the public to the Lake Michigan shore via county roads, which are excluded from the wilderness designation.

2014 Annual Newsletter Available Now

Each year we publish a short (3-page) newsletter that summarizes the work the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes did during the previous year and plans for the coming year. There are some significant changes coming in 2014 with the possible transfer of our history and cultural projects to Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear (another Park Partner at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore). We believe that this realignment of projects among the Park Partners will be more efficient and effective.

The Friends have been taking on a number of large new initiatives in recent years and our board feels that we need to focus our efforts on these recreation, education, safety, and natural resource projects. Read more in our Newsletter!

SBHT Winter Open House

About 100 people skied or snowshoed to the DH Day Log Cabin

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes hosted an Open House on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Saturday, February 15, 2014. The snacks (cookies and coffee from Cherry Republic, Hot Chocolate from the Grocer’s Daughter, and Hershey’s Kisses from Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes) were at the DH Day Log Cabin, which is right next to the trail in the DH Day Campground.

The Friends groom the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail for cross-country skiing several times each week during the winter. We put down two sets of classic tracks on the outside of the trail and corduroy for skate skiing and snowshoeing in the middle of the trail. We had the grooming equipment out at the Log Cabin too so visitors could see what we use to groom the trail and meet some of the volunteers that take care of your trail.

2013 – A Very Productive Year

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes has done a lot again this year! While reviewing all of the projects underway this year, I was amazed by all the hard work done by so many volunteers. Over 170 volunteers worked over 3,200 hours in our Adopt-A-Beach, Adopt-A-River, Adopt-A-Trail, and our Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Ambassador Program.  In addition, we made good progress in planning and developing new hiking and paddling trails – Kettles Trail and Bay to Bay Trail.


SBHT Trail Crew removes down tree

From a purely financial standpoint, the Friends provided grants or purchased equipment for the benefit of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore of almost $77,000. About $33,500 of this total came from the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Maintenance Fund managed by TART.

Click here to read a summary of all of our 2013 projects. You can also read more details on all of our projects by going to our Projects Page.


New Trail Needs Your Input

The proposed Bay to Bay Trail will be a 35-mile hiking trail for backpackers looking for a multi-day wilderness backpacking experience. The proposed trail would run the length of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore near the Lake Michigan coast. Some new backcountry walk-in campgrounds might be needed away from roads but near the lakeshore so that kayakers can also use them while making a multi-day kayak trip.

P5160005-600x450Your input regarding issues or concerns relevant to you is an important part of this planning and impact assessment process.  You can find background information and provide your comments online at parkplanning.nps.gov/baytobaytrail.  Comments may also be mailed to the National Lakeshore (Superintendent, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 9922 Front Street, Empire, MI 49630).

A lot of work was done this summer to map potential trail routes, map possible new backcountry campsites, and describe potential lake access or kayak launch points. The team is made up of staff members from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, NPS Rivers, Trails, Conservation Assistance group, and several other interested folks.

One of the next steps is to conduct an Environmental Assessment to evaluate various trail options and assess impacts and obtain more public input. Your help is critical in making this the kind of trail we all want to enjoy! For more information see the Bay to Bay Trail under our Projects Tab.

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