Each year thousands of people use over 50 miles of trails on the mainland in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to experience the variety of natural ecosystems that exist in the Park and to see beautiful vistas that are inaccessible from a vehicle. Downed trees or branches due to high wind, snow or ice sometimes block the trail, or erosion can cut gullies into the trail making a hike more difficult or dangerous. Trail volunteers commit to hiking their trail about once each month to clear small obstructions and to communicate larger obstructions or other trail issues. Having volunteers regularly hike the trails assures that they will be clean and in good condition for future visitors.
Trails in the Adopt-a-Trail Program
At this time, there are 13 hiking trails in this program. Some trails have additional loops or spurs.
You can get more details about each trail from our online Hiking Trails brochure. This brochure is also available in paper form, for a free-will donation, at several locations within the park, including the campground offices and the Visitor Center in Empire.
How to become an Adopt-A-Trail Volunteer:
Duties & Responsibilities of volunteers:
The volunteer will patrol the trails and provide a situation report including windfalls, drainage problems, erosion, vandalism, and litter. Volunteers certified for using hand tools by the Park are allowed to cut low-hanging limbs or branches and small downed trees that block the trail.
The volunteer may also pick up litter, remove leaves and debris from drainage’s, and remove sand from boardwalks. The volunteer may greet and provide park education and assistance to park visitors using the trail.
The volunteer will submit a Rustic Trail Report including hours worked and any observations about the trail.
Anticipated Results & Benefits of Project:
Park trails will receive more frequent scrutiny than is possible through visits by paid staff. Problems will be corrected on the spot, or else reported to the appropriate staff member for prompt attention. The presence of volunteers on the trails will have a positive influence on visitor behavior and enhance their overall experience.
Skills and Abilities Needed by Volunteers:
The volunteer’s physical conditioning must be good enough to permit walking moderate distances. They should be comfortable interacting with park visitors, and using their best efforts to answer questions and provide a positive image of the park as well as the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes organization.
Limitations for Volunteers:
Volunteers must be certified by the Park to use power tools or hand tools for trail maintenance.
Time Commitment of Volunteers:
Volunteers are asked to patrol their trail once per month from April through October. Patrolling more frequently, and patrolling other trails is encouraged.
Here are some of the views you will experience as an Adopt-A-Trail volunteer: