The Bow Lakes region of the National Lakeshore is an isolated area of about 1,000 acres southeast of Glen Lake and north of M-72. It is accessed off of Baatz Road where Fritz Road jogs. This area was added to the boundary of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the early 1980s because of the unique glacial topography including kettle bogs and lakes. About half of this area is owned by the National Lakeshore at this time, but property will be acquired in the area on a willing-seller basis as parcels become available if there is sufficient funding.
This area has not been developed and visitor access is very limited due to lack of trails and parking. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with the support (volunteers and funding) of the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes is developing a small parking lot, loop hiking trail, and interpretive signs to facilitate visitor use of the area as described in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s 2009 General Management Plan. The trail will be approximately 3.5 miles long, and the first section, which leads from the parking lot to an overlook with an interpretive sign at the top of one of the glacial kettles will be universally accessible.
Once built, this trail will be used by school groups on educational field trips to teach about the effects of the glaciation of this region and about some of the unique bog habitats. This area is also one of the best ares in the Park to observe spring wildflowers. The high elevation creates good conditions for lake-effect snow in the winter and as a result, this area provides some of the best snowshoeing in the Park
An Environmental Assessment (E/A), was completed in October, 2014 with a finding of No Significant Impact. Click here to go to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Planning Web Page for more details about the E/A.
The Park Interpretive staff is developing interpretive signs to describe the geological formations and unique habitats in this area.
The proposed trail route was studied throughout 2016-2018 to be sure it does not negatively impact the fragile habitats in this part of the Park. A small parking lot and trailhead signs will be built near the intersection of Baatz and Fritz roads after the trail has been built.
Construction has begun. This project is led by Park Roads, Trails, and Grounds staff and supported by local youth corps groups (YouthWork – 4 weeks and SEEDS – 2 weeks) and volunteers from Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes. If you are interested in helping, contact us. Grants in support of this project have been received from the American Hiking Society and the Biederman Family Foundation.
Trail construction is being done by hand. Much of the trail has already been completed by September 1, 2018. We had 30 individual volunteers and groups from Marion High School, Cherry Republic, and CMU Alternative Spring Break students worked over 500 hours on the project. The driveway and small parking lot will be built in the spring, and we hope to have the trail open to the public by the summer of 2019.
A gallery of photos of trail construction is shown below.