Do you want to experience nature on one of our hiking trails, but the slopes are just too steep and sandy? The track chair provides park visitors with hiking mobility assistance on designated Park trails.
Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes values the right of every visitor to experience our Park’s natural beauty. To provide an opportunity to visitors who need hiking assistance to explore designated trails in the Park, Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes offers the use of the track chair. This personal mobility device is a track wheelchair that enables access to gorgeous park features, including views of Lake Michigan, pastoral historic farm lands, forest trails, and meadows without harming the trail or adjacent land.
The track chair program began in May, 2019 and is meant to be used by park visitors who need hiking assistance to experience a rustic hiking trail. Because of limited availability, it may only be reserved by those who find it difficult to experience the designated trail without assistance.
At this time, the Track Chair is only available for use on the Bay View Trail. Click the link to see the Bay View Trail Map in pdf format. Access to this trail on the Track Chair is from the Kelderhouse Farm on Port Oneida Road about 3 miles north of Glen Arbor.
HOW TO RESERVE THE TRACK CHAIR: A reservation must be made at least 3 days in advance of your visit. Look at our RESERVATION CALENDAR to see what days are available. After you fill out the online reservation form, our Track Chair Coordinator will contact you to make arrangements.
WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CANCEL TRACK CHAIR RESERVATIONS DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER AND OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES. WE WILL TRY TO RESCHEDULE CANCELLATIONS MADE DUE TO WEATHER.
COST: The use of the Track Chair is FREE, but a National Park Pass is required and may be obtained at the Visitors’ Center in Empire, the Dune Climb, Pierce Stocking Drive, D.H. Day, or Platte River Campgrounds.
If you wish, you may make a donation to the Track Chair Program. You can donate online, cash or checks made out to Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes may be accepted by the Track Chair Host who will meet you for your hike. Or you may mail a check to: Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, P.O. Box 545, Empire, MI 49630. Please indicate the donation is for the Track Chair Program.
WHAT TO BRING: Bring all personal medication and medical equipment you need. A small first aid kit will be with the track chair. Also provided is an emergency rain poncho, a small fleece blanket, and an umbrella. If you have items needed for your personal comfort and convenience, please bring them. Your comfort is your responsibility so please check the local weather forecast and bring adequate clothing and/or equipment.
Limitations: The track chair has a weight limit, with medical equipment of 350 pounds. The trails take the track chair user away from vehicles and electricity. THERE WILL NOT BE QUICK ACCESS TO EITHER. Please allow for this when planning your trip, so all medication and medical equipment is sufficient for your hike. Cell phone reception may not be good on some areas of the trail.
Items to bring: Water, cell phone, required medication and equipment, clothing for expected weather.
Items to consider bringing:
Sun screen, sun glasses, hat/visor, seat cushion, snacks, camera, additional clothing layers.
CHAIR TRANSFER: A transfer board is not available. If you need one to transfer from your wheelchair to the track chair, please bring one. If you need assistance to transfer to the Track Chair, you MUST bring a friend or caregiver to assist you. Track Chair Hosts have limited experience assisting with transfers and therefore are limited in the help they can provide.
PETS/SERVICE ANIMALS: As required by the National Lakeshore, all pets must be on a 6-foot leash. Because the Track Chair requires attention to changing terrain and conditions, it is recommended that pets not join in the track chair hike. If they do join you, they must be handled by a friend, family member, or caregiver. Service dogs may be used in the manner deemed best by the owner. All dogs must be kept leashed and under control at all times.
WHERE TO FIND THE TRACK CHAIR: You will meet the Track Chair Host at the the Kelderhouse Farm. Use the grass parking lot for the Heritage Trail just past the Kelderhouse farm. Do not park at the Farm. It is closer to the Track Chair if you park at the designated parking lot. Be certain your Park Pass is displayed in your parked car. There is a barrier-free vault toilet at this location.
ONTO THE TRAIL: The Track Chair Host will help you become familiar with the track chair and trail etiquette. If it is helpful for you, the Track Chair Host will have you test your track chair skills before hitting the trail. On the trail you may encounter many people who are interested in the track chair and your experience with it. Plan to attract attention! You’re using a piece of equipment that is a wonder to most people! Other trail users are generally supportive of the Track Chair Program and the opportunities it provides. Enjoy your experience and remember to STAY ON THE TRAIL.